MMO2539 - Post-medieval ditches at Kittuck Hill (Monument)


Post-medieval ditches are visible as earthworks on aerial photographs forming an extensive drainage system. They were most likely cut as part of the Knight family's attempt at improvement, possibly around 1850.

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Full Description

A system of post-medieval drainage ditches is visible on aerial photographs, across the slopes of Kittuck Hill, Exmoor parish. The ditches were most likely cut as part of the Knight family's attempt at agricultural improvement of the former royal forest, possibly associated with the construction of Tom's Hill or Larkbarrow model Farm around 1850. Centred on approximately SS 8177 4364, these earthworks cover an area of over 40 hectares. The drains are arranged in an extremely irregular pattern, containing elements of herringbone design, and were probably intended to drain into tributaries of Chalk Water in Stowford Bottom and Three Combes Foot. Even more extensive drainage systems are visible to the south towards Warren Farm, some draining into natural streams and water courses, others appearing to drain into the various contour leats. According to Orwin, many miles of drainage ditches were cut across parts of Exmoor, but this technique did not address the underlying issue of compacted ironpan soils and failed to provide adequate drainage for improvement. As with the drainage systems to the south, this example is also associated with extensive peat cuttings. However, it is clear that the cuttings follow the line of the drains and it is probable that these postdate drains and were opportunistically exploiting the abandoned excavations. [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 CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3065-6 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 540/931 (F20) 3060-3 (8 November 1952).
  • <3> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. p 32-33.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped features: #47391 ; #47392 ; #47393 ; #47394 ; #47395 ; #47396 ; #47397 ; #47398 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1478377, Extant 19 July 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8183 4353 (1105m by 856m) (8 map features)
Map sheet SS84SW

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Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW288
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1478377

Record last edited

Jul 19 2021 10:32AM


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