MMO2343 - 19th Century water meadow above Ashcombe Bottom (Monument)


A probable mid 19th Century water meadow system is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks. It appears to have been a detached system, which only distributed water to the fields and not liquid manure or other fertilisers.

Please read the .

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 on the eastern slopes above Ashcombe Bottom. Centred at approximately SS 7736 4001, the system consists of three, possibly four gutters, and a feeder leat, or "headmain." This headmain appears to connect with the artificial leats visible to the north (see NMR UID 1475732). 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. 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. This particular water meadow most likely dates to the mid 19th century and is part of the Knight family's agricultural improvements in the area. A land agent employed by the family from 1848 onwards was considered a leading expert in water meadows and irrigation. [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. NMR OS/96507 30-31 (30 March 1996).
  • <2> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. p 55, 77.
  • <3> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. pp 1-7, 28-9.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SE. MD002183. [Mapped feature: #32978 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1475762, Extant 14 June 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7746 4007 (263m by 406m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SE192
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1475762

Record last edited

Jun 14 2021 10:41PM


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