MMO2296 - Post-medieval water meadow south of Tarr Ball Wood (Monument)


A possible simple catchwork or field-gutter water meadow system is visible on aerial photographs as a series of short ditches or water channels. The features may otherwise be footpaths eroded into the combe slope.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A possible simple water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of short ditches or water channels to the south of Tarr Ball Wood, Luccombe parish, centred on circa SS 8695 4455. 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 is a common feature of Exmoor systems. The possible system recorded here was most likely fed from a spring immediately to the east. However, the gutters are so short that it is possible that the earthworks are in fact sections of footpath eroded into the combe slope. [1-3] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [4]

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106UK/1655 4089-90 (F20) (11 July 1946).
  • <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 84 SE. MD002185.
  • <4> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1473564, Extant 17 March 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 8698 4456 (25m by 57m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS84SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SE173
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1473564

Record last edited

Mar 17 2022 11:26AM


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