MMO1965 - 19th Century water meadow south of Combepark Lane (Monument)


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

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A post-medieval water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system was constructed on a southeast facing slope above Hoaroak water at circa SS 7347 4750, to the south of Combepark Lane, Lynton and Lynmouth parish. 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. Two gutters can be confidently identified here, centred on circa SS 7353 4751 and visible for about 75 metres, and SS 7348 4751, much longer at roughly 250 metres. These two channels may have been fed from a spring at circa SS 7338 4741, although if this is the case the western extent of the gutters may not have been fully recorded. The ditches or channels to the northwest of these two gutters may be modifications or additions to the water meadow system, or later, possibly 20th Century tracks reusing the course of the gutters. It is not apparent from the aerial photographs alone which establishment the water meadow is associated with, but its source is closest to Higher Combepark. If this is the case, this system may be an integrated system where the water is passed though the farmstead or related outbuildings to pick up manure and subsequently distribute this liquid fertaliser on the slopes. [1-2]

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 540/910 (F20) 4025-6 (17 October 1952).
  • <2> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <3> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NW. MD002173.



Grid reference Centred SS 7350 4754 (206m by 175m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS74NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW170
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1465657

Record last edited

Dec 11 2014 12:40PM


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