MMO3007 - Post-medieval water meadow south of Hillway Farm (Monument)


A catchwork or field gutter system 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 on the south facing valley slopes overlooking the River Barle to the south of Hillway Farm, centred on circa SS 8275 3617. It is probably of a type known as a catchwork, ditch gutter or field gutter system. 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 water meadow can be seen in use on aerial photographs of 1947, and the gutters remain visible on aerial photographs of 1962. The gutters clearly follow the line of field boundaries removed prior to the publication of the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map, and are therefore likely to predate 1889. [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) 4360-1 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 543/2821 (F61) 161-2 (27 April 1964).
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1889.
  • <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: #42341 ]
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1488282, Extant 27 August 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8264 3617 (428m by 186m) 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 NW105
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1488282

Record last edited

Aug 27 2021 10:59PM


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