MMO2005 - Post-medieval water meadow around Shoulsbarrow Farm (Monument)


A post-medieval water meadow, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs. It is not clear if any parts of this system were connected to the farmyard at Shoulsbarrow and may on part have been a detached system.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A post-medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow system, is visible on aerial photographs to the west of Shoulsbarrow Farm, Challacombe. Centred at approximately SS 6915 4012, at least four gutters are visible on a fairly gentle west facing slope above an unnamed stream or combe. The gutters vary in length from 35 to 127 metres long and are between 1 and 2 metres wide. In places the gutters are cut by post-medieval field boundaries, indicating that this system was probably constructed early in the post-medieval period. This system does not appear to have been connected to the farmyard at Shoulsbarrow, suggesting that this was a detached system, which only distributed water to the fields and not liquid manure as fertiliser. Catchwater meadows used a series of approximately parallel gutters to distribute flowing water evenly over the surface of the meadow in order to prevent freezing in winter and encourage early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock. Most catchwater meadows are believed to date to the post-medieval period, although it is possible that they were first developed in the medieval period. [1-3] Parts of the post-medieval water meadow described above were transcribed as part of an air photo mapping project on Challacombe and environs. Addtional gutters were mapped suggesting that the meadow was more extensive and included gutters to the north of the farm. [4,5] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 3143-44 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <3>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 64 SE. MD002181. [Mapped feature: #33285 ]
  • <4> Unpublished document: Winton, H.. 1999. RCHME/EH Aerial Photographers Comment. RCHME: Challacombe, West Devon, 20 December 1999.
  • <5> Archive: Winton, H.. 1999. RCHME: Challacombe Project, Devon. AF1301145.
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1466834, Extant 1 November 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 64 SE71
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1466834



Grid reference Centred SS 6919 4017 (291m by 489m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS64SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Nov 1 2021 10:09PM


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