MMO2669 - 19th Century water meadow northeast of Elseworthy Allotment (Monument)


A probably 19th Century water meadow is visible as earthworks on aerial photographs. It may have been associated with the former settlement at Spangate.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

An extensive area of probable 19th Century date water meadow is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks, on the north facing slopes above a tributary to the River Avill from Elseworthy Allotment to Ford Lane at Holes Cross. The system is centred approximately on SS 9258 4198, but extends along the combe for over 1400 metres and covers an area approaching 15 hectares. It is unclear from the field patterns visible on the aerial photographs with which farm the water meadow is associated. It is possible it was associated with the deserted settlement at Spangate (MSO11771) or split between several farms; either way, a coordinated effort would have been required in its construction and use. The northeastern extent of the system can no longer be seen on aerial photographs of 1979. This is a type of water meadow known as catchwork or field gutter system, commonly found on combe or hill slopes and designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream. The water is carried along the valley sides via one or more channels or gutters and when irrigation was required the gutters were blocked, causing water to overflow from gutter to gutter, 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. [1-4]

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3200-2 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/79013 264-5 (17 April 1979).
  • <3> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 94 SW. MD002186. [Mapped feature: #32462 ]



Grid reference Centred SS 9259 4208 (1153m by 758m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS94SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SW132
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1482517

Record last edited

Aug 17 2020 9:54PM


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