MMO2834 - 19th Century water meadow and linhays east of Withycombe (Monument)


A water meadow irrigation system of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks. It consists of 4 parallel gutters arrayed to either side of a spring-fed stream, and appears to work in association with two linhays.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow irrigation system of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks approximately 250 metres to the east of Withycombe, at circa SS 8901 3519. The visible water meadow is relatively small, consisting of at most 4 parallel gutters, arrayed to either side of the central spring-fed stream which they probably tapped for water. 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 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 the March and April. It is possible that the gutters formed an integrated system which operated with Churchpath Mead Linhay, depicted in this area on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1890. This type of catch-work is normally associated with farmyards, but may have also distributed liquid manure from the linhay to the slopes. [1-4] Churchpath Mead Linhay is shown on the 1st Edition map at SS 8892 3519. A further linhay, Western Mead Linhay, is also shown on this map and within the water meadow system at SS 8908 3514. [3] The 2020 MasterMap data depicts Western Mead Linhay but it is not labelled. Churchpath Mead Linhay is not shown. [5] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1944 4161-2 (23 January 1947).
  • <2> Externally held archive reference: Externally held archive. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1890.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NE. MD002192. [Mapped feature: #41690 ]
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey. 2020. MasterMap data. 1:2,500.
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1485014, Extant 22 September 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8907 3517 (308m by 144m) Enhanced using 1st Ed map SEM6703
Map sheet SS83NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NE111
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1485014

Record last edited

Sep 22 2021 2:20PM


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