MMO2139 - Post-medieval drainage ditches north of Driver Farm (Monument)


An area of regular post medieval drainage ditches is visible on aerial photographs.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

An area of regular post-medieval drainage ditches is visible on aerial photographs in fields north of Driver Farm, Exmoor. The ditches were most likely cut as part of the Knight family's attempt at improvement, probably at the same time as the construction of Driver Farm around 1845. Centred at approximately SS 7356 4140, the ditches run east to west across a northwest facing slope above an unnamed stream. It appears that the ditches were designed to channel water into this stream. The ditches are all cut in straight parallel lines, and cover an area of approximately 32 hectares. The whole area around The Chains is particularly boggy and peat covered, and it seems likely that the ditches were cut to drain the area prior to it being enclosed. According to Orwin, many miles of drainage ditches were cut across parts of Exmoor, but in some areas failed to provide adequate drainage for the land to be enclosed [2]. Large areas of Exmoor were succesfully drained, although it appears that this area, which is still open and boggy moorland was not one of them. Other similar ditches are visible in the surrounding areas, some draining into natural streams and water courses, others appearing to drain into Pinkery Canal. Many of the ditches are associated with areas of peat cutting. [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] A letter dated 13 January 1853 from Robert Smith to Frederic Winn Knight states that "The men have commenced Draining "c on the Driver Farm for Mr. Minnett". [6] An ecological study included peat depth sampling here [7]

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 926-27 (29 April 1973).
  • <2> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. pp 32-33.
  • <3> Monograph: Riley, H. and Wilson-North, R.. 2001. The Field Archaeology of Exmoor. English Heritage. pp 138-39.
  • <4>XY Archive: English Heritage. 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SW. MD002182. [Mapped feature: #32922 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1470332, Extant 18 January 2022.
  • <6> Archive: Various. 1815-1999. Knight Archive. N/A. KN.CORR.018_1853.01.13.pdf.
  • <7> Report: Phipps, W.. 2023. Do upland peatland sites with greater depth host more diverse plant communities?. Unpublished.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local Heritage List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW171
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1470332



Grid reference Centred SS 7373 4143 (810m by 562m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Jul 26 2023 1:56PM


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