MMO3004 - Post-medieval water meadow south of Westerclose (Monument)


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

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A possible water-meadow of probable post-medieval date can be seen on aerial photographs of the 1940s, as very subtle earthworks on the south-east facing slopes above the River Barle at Withypool, centred on circa SS 84533569. It is of a type found typically on the combe sides or hill slopes of Exmoor, known as a catch-work, ditch-gutter or field-gutter system, and covers an area of less than one hectare. Catch-works 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 features can be seen in operation on aerial photographs of 1947, but the source of water used by the system is not clear from the aerial photographs or maps available to the survey. [1-5] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4358-9 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1889.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. County Series, 2nd Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1903.
  • <4> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <5>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NW. MD002191. [Mapped feature: #32757 ]
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1488271, Extant 30 August 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8453 3570 (84m by 69m) 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 NW102
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1488271

Record last edited

Aug 30 2021 9:09PM


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