MMO2986 - Post-medieval catchwork water meadow system southwest of Higher Barn (Monument)


A post-medieval catchwork water meadow is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks.

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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 to the southwest of Higher Barn, Exford parish, with which it is probably associated. 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 water-meadow is centred on circa SS 8456 3965 and is visible as three gutters that probably tapped a spring fed stream at their northern ends. It is possible that further gutters are be present but not visible on the available aerial photographs. [1-4] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [5]

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3281-2 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 543/2821 (F63) 0159-160 (27 April 1963).
  • <3> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NW. MD002191. [Mapped feature: #32768 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1488148, Extant 30 August 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8454 3964 (97m by 159m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS83NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NW84
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1488148

Record last edited

Aug 30 2021 10:31PM


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