MMO1792 - 19th Century water meadow northwest of Dogsworthy Combe (Monument)


A simple water meadow of probable 19th Century, of a type known locally as a catchwork system, is visible on aerial photographs. It appears to have been a detached system, and not pass through a farmstead.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A single water channel is visible on aerial photographs of 1946 onwards, indicating that a type of post-medieval water meadow known locally as a catchwork or catch meadow system was constructed on a northwest facing valley slope of Dogsworthy Combe, to the south of Multleburff Hill, centred on circa SS 7768 4952. Catchwork systems are usually found on steep combe sides and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the valley sides via a series of channels or gutters. This water meadow system was fed from a point to the south, up Dogsworthy Combe at circa SS 7764 4948. When irrigation was required the gutters were blocked, causing water to overflow, thereby irrigating the slopes. This film of water prevented the ground freezing during the winter and raised the temperature of the grass in the spring, thereby encouraging early growth, particularly important during the hungry gap of the March and April. Any excess water then returned to the feeder stream at the valley bottom or was removed by a tail drain. The use of a series of parallel gutters to improve the coverage is also common feature of Exmoor systems. This system also appears to be an example of a `detached system', where the water meadow is not attached to its farmstead and only distributed what liquid manure was carried to it. [1-4] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [5]

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. P. 1, 28-29.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1655 3141-2 (F20) (11 July 1946).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/95026 0087-88 (12 March 2007).
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NE. MD002168. [Mapped feature: #38573 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1461947, Extant 9 December 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7768 4952 (76m by 114m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NE138
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1461947

Record last edited

Dec 9 2021 2:49PM


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