MMO1891 - 19th Century water meadow northwest of North Furzehill Farm (Monument)


A water meadow of probable 19th Century date, of a type known locally as a catchwork or catch-meadow system, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of ditches or water channels.

Please read the .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A post-medieval water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or catch-meadow system was constructed on the south-west facing slopes of West Lyn River Combe, to the north-west of North Furzehill 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 appears to be an example of a 'detached system', where the water meadow is not directly attached to its farmstead and only distributed what liquid manure was carried to it. It is possible that it is part of the same system recorded to the south at North Furzehill Farm. The gutters are still visible in 1995, although they have been damaged by ploughing associated with post-war agricultural improvements. [1-4]

Sources/Archives (5)

  • --- Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NW. MD002173.
  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4080-1 11-APR-1947.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 540/910 (F20) 3157-8 17-OCT-1952.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/95/026 25-26 12-MAR-1995.
  • <4> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.



Grid reference Centred SS 7218 4540 (214m by 115m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS74NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW116
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1464945

Record last edited

May 13 2013 10:28AM


Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.