MMO2410 - 19th Century water meadow southeast of Westermill Linhay (Monument)


A ditch visible on aerial photographs is probably a water channel of a type known known as field gutter, probably forming part of a small water meadow of 19th Century date.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A simple post-medieval water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system was constructed on a southwest facing slope to the southeast of Westermill Linhay, centred on circa SS 8210 4006. Such 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 parallel gutters to improve the coverage is a common feature of Exmoor systems but this system is slightly unusual in that the two gutters which make up the system appear to have two separate sources. The northern gutter, centred on circa SS 8209 4006, appears to be fed from a source circa 25 metres to the northeast of Westermill Linhay. This gutter may have collected and distributed manure from the linhay as an extra fertilizer. The second channel is in fact a much longer gutter or head main that probably supplied Westermill Farm with water, with a source over 800 metres to the north-west, and which has been recorded seperately (see MMO522). [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. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4160-1 (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 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #32626 ]
  • <4> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1476793, Extant 21 July 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8208 4005 (130m by 100m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW183
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1476793

Record last edited

Jul 21 2021 8:55AM


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