MMO2426 - 19th Century water meadow east of Pitsworthy Farm (Monument)


A water meadow of a type known as a catchwork or field-gutter system is visible on aerial photographs as a series of parallel water channels or gutters. It was probably associated with the deserted farm of Higher Pittsworthy.

Please read the .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow of a type known as a catchwork or field gutter system is visible on aerial photographs as rows of parallel ditches, probably water channels known as leats or gutters, cut into the gentle southwest facing slopes to the south of the deserted farm at Higher Pittsworthy at circa SS 8400 4024. Such water meadows are usually found on combe or hill slopes and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the slope via a series of roughly parallel 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 the March and April. At Higher Pittsworthy three rows of gutters are visible in operation on aerial photographs of the 1940s, but more may be present. Although not physically attached to the farmyard, the system was probably fed by a spring within the farms infield and may therefore have operated as an integrated system, whereby the water supply was routed through the farmstead to pick up liquid manure which was then distributed on the fields. The water meadow was probably created as part of extensive agricultural improvements that took place in this area in the mid 19th Century. Although short sections of gutter can be seen on aerial photographs of the 1970s and 1980s, it is unclear how well the wider system has survived. [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 106G/UK/1501 (F20) 3064-5 (13 May 1946).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. ENPA INFRA RED FALSE COLOUR 2242-3 (1982).
  • <3>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #32599 ]
  • <4> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1477457, Extant 20 July 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8397 4024 (241m by 175m) 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 SW199
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1477457

Record last edited

Jul 20 2021 4:35PM


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