MMO1793 - 19th Century water meadow north of Wingate Farm (Monument)


A water meadow of probable 19th Century is visible as a series of ditches or water channels on aerial photographs. Although associated with Wingate Farm, the water supply for the water meadow does not pass through its farmstead.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A post-medieval water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or catch meadow system was constructed on the northwest and northeast facing slopes of West Wingate Combe, Countisbury parish, to the north of Wingate Farm. Although the water channels, also known as gutters, are in visible on both sides of the combe, centred at circa SS 7781 4912 and SS 7791 4936, both sections appear to be associated with Wingate Farm. 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. 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, as seen here, is a common feature of Exmoor systems. This system also appears to be an example of a `detached system'; although associated with Wingate Farm, the water supply for the water meadow does not pass through its farmstead, and therefore only distributed what liquid manure was carried to it. Although similar systems were operating elsewhere by the 17th Century, this water meadow is probably 19th Century in origin and probably continued in use well into the 20th Century, as can be seen at several similar systems visible to the south of this area. [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> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1655 3141-2 (F20) (11 July 1946).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/79013 140-1 (17 April 1979).
  • <3> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NE. MD002168. [Mapped feature: #42844 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1461974, Extant 9 December 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7790 4923 (226m by 412m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (5)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NE139
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1461974

Record last edited

Dec 9 2021 2:50PM


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