MMO2451 - 19th Century water meadow east of Wellshead Plantation (Monument)


A ditch visible as an earthwork on aerial photographs, and probably used as a footpath, may be the remains of a 19th Century water channel, possibly forming a simple water meadow known as a catchwork or field-gutter system.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A ditch visible as an earthwork on aerial photographs to the east of Wellshead Plantation may be the remains of a 19th Century water channel of a type known as a leat or field gutter, possibly forming a simple water meadow known as a catchwork or field gutter system. The earthwork can be seen for approximately 575 metres from circa SS 8282 4136 to SS 8282 4081. The gutter probably directly tapped water from Allcombe Water at a point roughly 50 metres to the north, which returned to the river via a feeder stream at its southern end. Such catchwork systems are usually found on steep combe or hillsides 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. The channel had probably gone out of use for irrigation by the publication of the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map in 1889 and was subsequently used as a footpath. [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 RAF 106G/UK/1501 (F20) 3067-8 (13 May 1946).
  • <2> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1889.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #32582 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1477774, Extant 20 July 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8285 4108 (64m by 561m) 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 SW224
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1477774

Record last edited

Jul 20 2021 1:59PM


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