MMO1994 - 19th Century water meadow north of Lady Well (Monument)


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

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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 field gutter system was constructed on north and west facing slopes to the south of Lynton, at circa SS 7116 4913. 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 one or more 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 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. The water meadow is composed of four or five gutters. Four roughly parallel gutters are clearly visible on the east facing slope to the north of the Lady Well, which probably is the water source for the system. A fifth possible gutter is visible on the north facing slope to the north-east of the well, at circa SS 7127 4914, but this may be track not marked on the base map. It is not apparent from the aerial photographs which establishment the water meadow is associated with. As it is not associated with a farmstead it is probably a detached system, distributing only what fertiliser 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> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1501 F20 4360-1 (13 May 1946).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4051-2 (11 April 1947).
  • <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 NW. MD002173. [Mapped feature: #42770 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1466318, Extant 4 January 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 7124 4914 (204m by 111m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW199
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1466318

Record last edited

Jan 4 2022 3:42PM


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