MMO2355 - Post-medieval water meadow southeast of Warren Farm (Monument)


A post medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks. This system may have been integrated with Warren Farmstead.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A post-medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks southeast of Warren Farm, Exmoor. Centred at approximately SS 7968 4054 three gutters are visible stretching across a fairly steep south facing slope above the River Exe. The gutters vary in length from 250 metres to 440 metres in length, and are overlain in places by post-medieval field boundaries. The gutters are apparently fed by an unnamed tributary of the River Exe which runs past Warren Farm, suggesting that this may have been an integrated system which also distributed liquid manure as fertiliser to the fields. It may also have been part of the very extensive water meadow system visible to the west, but appears to have been fed from a different source. Catchwater meadows used a series of approximately parallel gutters located on a slope 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. Warren Farm was constructed by the Knight family in the mid 19th Century following their acquisition of the former Royal Forest of Exmoor. In 1848, the family employed a land agent named Robert Smith, who was considered an expert in irrigation and water meadow systems. Smith conducted experiments to measure the temperature of the Exe in order to prove the usefulness of water meadow systems, and it seems likely that the extensive systems around Warren Farm were a direct result of those experiments. [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 CPE/UK/1980 4157-58 (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>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SE. MD002183. [Mapped feature: #32966 ]
  • <4> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1475924, Extant 14 June 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7981 4055 (453m by 245m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SE204
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1475924

Record last edited

Jun 14 2021 5:00PM


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