MMO2025 - Post-medieval water meadow northwest of Withycombe Farm (Monument)


A post-medieval water meadow, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks. This appears to have been a detached system unconnected to the yard at Withycombe Farm.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A post-medieval water meadow, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks to the northwest of Withycombe Farm, Challacombe. Centred at approximately SS 6841 4215, six gutters are visible on a steep west facing slope above an unnamed stream or combe. The gutters vary in length from 20 to 70 metres, and are between 1 and 3 metres wide. A seventh gutter, measuring approximately 88 metres is visible at SS 6834 4210. This gutter is surrounded by a slight bank, and is more likely to be a leat than part of the water meadow. The water meadow does not appear to have been connected to the yard at Withycombe Farm, 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 mapped as part of an aerial photograph interpretation project in Challacombe environs. There are some additional gutters and what appears ot be a feeder drain from a spring to the north of the system. [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. NMR OS/73109 886 (29 April 1973).
  • <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 64 SE. MD002181.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Winton, H.. 1999. RCHME/EH Aerial Photographers Comment. RCHME: Challacombe, West Devon, 20 Decmeber 1999.
  • <5>XY Archive: Winton, H.. 1999. RCHME: Challacombe Project, Devon. AF1301145. [Mapped features: #33281 ; #34724 ]
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1466896, Extant 9 November 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 61763
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 64 SE82
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1466896



Grid reference Centred SS 6845 4227 (342m by 495m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SS64SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Nov 9 2021 8:45AM


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