MMO2984 - Post-medieval water meadow at Riscombe (Monument)


A simple water meadow of probable post-medieval date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks. This example might be slightly atypical in that it may operate on both banks of the River Exe.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow of probable post-medieval date, of a type known as a catchwork, ditch gutter or field gutter system is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks at Riscombe. 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. The main body of the system, visible as 3 gutters, is centred on circa SS 8344 3958 and is probably associated with the farm at Riscombe. However it might be slightly atypical in that a further gutter can be seen to the north of the Exe, and it may therefore operate on both banks of the river. It is likely that further gutters may be present but are not visible clearly enough on the available aerial photographs to be transcribed. [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 106G/UK/1501 (F20) 4062-3 13-MAY-1946.
  • <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 NW. MD002191. [Mapped feature: #32770 ]
  • <4> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1488134, Extant 1 September 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8343 3962 (145m by 155m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS83NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NW82
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1488134

Record last edited

Sep 1 2021 12:04PM


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