MMO3001 - Post-medieval catch water system south of Leys Farm (Monument)


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

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow of probable post-medieval date can be seen on aerial photographs of the 1940s as earthworks to the south of Leys Farm, centred on circa SS 8461 3598. It is moderately extensive example of a type found typically on the combe sides or hill slopes of Exmoor, known as a catchwork, ditch gutter or field gutter system, and covers an area of circa 2 hectares. Catchworks 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 remain visible, in an eroded form, on aerial photographs of 1999, but they probably passed out of use soon after the Second World War. When in use the system probably tapped the spring fed stream that rises to the north of Weatherslade. To effect this, the gutters potentially extended further to the northeast towards Weatherslade than depicted, but this could not be clearly seen on the available aerial photographs and was not transcribed. [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) 4357-8 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8436/10 (18584/18) (12 October 1999).
  • <3> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. p 1-4, 28-9.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NW. MD002191. [Mapped feature: #40600 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1488253, Extant 30 August 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8461 3599 (224m by 149m) 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 NW99
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1488253

Record last edited

Aug 30 2021 9:19PM


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