MMO3000 - Post-medieval water meadow northeast of Withypool (Monument)


Evidence for a simple water-meadow of probable post-medieval date can be seen on aerial photographs of the 1940s as earthworks.

Please read the .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Evidence for a water meadow of probable post-medieval date can be seen on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards, as earthworks to the northeast of Withypool, centred on circa SS 8488 3590. It is a simple example of a type known as a catchwork, ditch gutter or field gutter system, found typically on the combe sides or hill slopes of Exmoor. These were designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the slope via a series of roughly parallel channels or gutters, although simple examples consisting of only a single gutter are common. 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 gutters recorded here can be seen in operation on aerial photographs of 1947. To the north of the visible earthworks, evidence for further gutters can be seen in the form of a flush of water on the combe sides, indicating gutters in use. However, the earthworks themselves are not visible; it was common practice to dig gutters adjacent to field boundaries which often obscured the earthworks from view on the aerial photographs. The system probably tapped the spring fed stream that rises immediately to the east. It is not apparent from the aerial photographs alone to which holding this system belonged. The gutters are not visible on later aerial photographs and may have passed out of use. [1,2] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [3]

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4356-7 (11 April 1947).
  • <2>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NW. MD002191. [Mapped feature: #32759 ]
  • <3> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1488250, Extant 30 August 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8485 3589 (96m by 106m) 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 NW98
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1488250

Record last edited

Aug 30 2021 9:23PM


Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.