MMO2840 - Post-medieval water meadow on Road Hill (Monument)


Fragmentary water channels forming a detached water meadow are visible on aerial photographs as earthworks.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Fragmentary water channels visible on aerial photographs as earthworks indicate the presence of one of more post-medieval water-meadows, of a type known as catchwork or field gutter system, on the north facing slopes of Road Hill above the River Exe. Centred approximately on SS 8590 3756, the gutters are fed by two spring fed streams, tributaries to the Exe, that flow downslope past Court Copse and Road Copse. Such water meadows are typically 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. Three gutters centred on circa SS 8586 3763, may form an unusual valley floor catchwork system, which may be earlier in date than the remainder of the system, which is typically 19th Century in appearance. The extent of the system is extended upslope to the northern edge of Court Copse, as it is possible to infer the presence of a gutter from a visible flow of water without seeing the earthwork itself. However, it is unclear with which farmstead this system was associated, if indeed it is a single system as it crosses the Exford-Winsford parish boundary, and it may therefore be what is known as a detached water meadow. [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: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 54/2821 (F62) 157-8 (27 April 1964).
  • <2> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <3>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NE. MD002192. [Mapped feature: #32811 ]
  • <4> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1485045, Extant 22 September 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8579 3752 (410m by 258m) Aerial Survey
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 NE117
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1485045

Record last edited

Sep 22 2021 1:23PM


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