MMO1971 - 19th Century water meadow south of Barton Wood (Monument)


A probably 19th century water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system is visible as a ditch or water channel on aerial photographs.

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 field gutter system was constructed on a north facing combeside above Barton Wood, centred on circa SS 7472 4848, Brendon 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 is commonly seen on Exmoor systems, but this is a simple system with a single gutter or headmain. The source of the water is unclear, but the First Edition Ordnance Survey map, upon which the gutter is marked, indicates that a spring may be hidden within the tree line at circa SS 7479 4845. It is not apparent from the aerial photographs alone which farm the water meadow is associated with. However, the absence of any visible structures in its vicinity indicates that it is probably a detached water meadow, which distributed only what fertiliser was carried to it. It can be seen operating in April 1972, and the earthwork is still visible on aerial photographs of 1995. [1-6] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [7]

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4046-7 11-APR-1947.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/72065 071 15-APR-1972.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/95026 055-6 12-MAR-1995.
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1889.
  • <5> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <6>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NW. MD002173. [Mapped feature: #33024 ]
  • <7> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1465775, Extant 10 January 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 7472 4848 (117m by 17m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW176
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1465775

Record last edited

Jan 10 2022 1:53PM


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