MMO2155 - 19th Century water meadow southwest of Driver Farm (Monument)


A water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks. This system appears to have been a detached system and may be associated with Driver Farm.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A post-medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks in a field to the southwest of Driver Farm, Exmoor. Centred at approximately SS 7312 4016, four roughly parallel ditches are visible located on a fairly steep south facing slope. The ditches run approximately east to west along the contours of the slope and appear to drain into an un-named tributary of the River Barle at SS 7318 4021. This system does not appear to be connected to any local farmyards, suggesting that this was a detached system which only distributed water to the fields and not liquid manure or other fertilisers. It seems probable that the water meadow was constructed around the same time as Driver Farm, about 1845. Frederic Winn Knight, the owner of the Exmoor Forest after 1841 and builder of Driver Farm, employed a land agent named Robert Smith who was considered an expert in water meadow systems, and constructed many of them across Exmoor. Smith may have introduced water meadows at Driver to boost flagging interest in the farm lets on Exmoor [3]. Catchwater meadows used a series of approximately parallel gutters were used 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. [1-4] 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 CPE/UK/1980 4146-47 (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> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. pp 54-55, 7.
  • <4>XY Archive: English Heritage. 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SW. MD002182. [Mapped feature: #32907 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1470534, Extant 18 January 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW186
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1470534



Grid reference Centred SS 7309 4022 (228m by 233m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Jan 19 2022 11:09AM


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