MMO2889 - Post-medieval water meadow or water carriages northeast of Simonsbath (Monument)


A possible post-medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow or water carriage system is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks. The features may otherwise be related to nearby large areas of post-medieval drainage.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (3)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A possible post-medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks in a field northeast of Simonsbath, Exmoor. Centred at approximately SS 7780 3986, three gutters are visible following the contours of a southwest facing slope above Ashcombe Bottom. The gutters vary in length from 100 to 230 metres, and extend across an area of approximately 4 hectares. This system does not appear to be connected to any local farmyards, suggesting that this was a detached system which only distributed water to the fields and not liquid manure or other fertilisers. Catchwater meadows used a series of approximately parallel gutters to distribute flowing water evenly over the surface of the meadow in order to prevent freezing in winter and encourage early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock. However, since this system is located close to several large areas of post-medieval drainage, it may in fact be related to this activity. [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] Lidar analysis demonstates that this water meadow, or perhaps water carriage system, was more extensive than visible on the aerial photographs mentioned above. The water system appears to predate the curent field system apart from the large curving boundary which may be a leat feeding Birchcleave reservoir. It is likley that these features date to the early activities of John Knight after he acquired the former Royal Forest in 1818 [5,6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 4154-55 (11 April 1947).
  • <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 73 NE. MD002190. [Mapped feature: #43285 ]
  • <4> Report: Riley, H.. 2015. Metric Survey of Little Ashcombe, Simonsbath, Exmoor Mires Project EAC15. Hazel Riley.
  • <5> Report: Kaye, S.. 2021. Lidar analysis at MMO459—Possible prehistoric hillfort or 19th Century reservoir on Birchcleave. Kaye, S.. Figure 8.
  • <6> Verbal communication: Various. 1954-Present. Exmoor National Park Authority staff comments.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local Heritage List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NE92
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1486606



Grid reference Centred SS 7782 3971 (745m by 518m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS73NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Mar 28 2023 6:22PM


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