MMO2712 - Post-medieval drainage system on Squallacombe (Monument)


An area of regular post-medieval drainage ditches is visible on aerial photographs on moorland around Squallacombe and Smallacombe.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

An area of regular post-medieval drainage ditches is visible on aerial photographs on moorland around Smallacombe and Sqallacombe, Exmoor. The ditches were most likely cut as part of the Knight family's attempt at agricultural improvement of the former Royal Forest of Exmoor, probably around 1845. Centred at approximately SS 7352 3876, most of the ditches run east to west across an east facing slope between two unnamed streams and the River Barle. It appears that the ditches were designed to channel water into this stream and on into the river. The ditches are nearly all cut in straight parallel lines, and cover an area of approximately 72 hectares. In the western end of the system, several of the ditches are more curvilinear, following the contours of the slope. These ditches are connected to the more regular, parallel channels and are presumably part of the same system, but the difference in form is interesting. According to Orwin, many miles of drainage ditches were cut across parts of Exmoor, but in some areas failed to provide adequate drainage for the land to be enclosed [2]. Large areas of Exmoor were successfully drained, including this area, which has been used as grazing land for sheep. Other similar ditches are visible in the surrounding areas, some draining into natural streams and water courses, such as the system visible to the west (see MMO2711). Others, particularly those to the north in SS 74 SW , drain into specially constructed leats such as Pinkery Canal. Many of these areas of drainage are associated with areas of peat cutting and extraction. [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: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK 1980. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. 3086. 3446-48 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. 32-33.
  • <3>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NW. MD002189. [Mapped feature: #33193 ]
  • <4> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1483646, Extant 30 November 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NW52
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1483646



Grid reference Centred SS 7355 3877 (998m by 1090m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS73NW

Finds (0)

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Related Events/Activities (1)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Nov 30 2021 1:55PM


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