MMO3115 - Post-medieval water meadow at Old Ashway (Monument)


A catchwork or field gutter system of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs. The system is relatively small, covering almost 6 hectares of combe slopes but probably tapped a tributary to the River Barle.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow of probable 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks centred on circa SS 8820 3231, to the north of Old Ashway. This is a type of water meadow known as catchwork or field gutter system, commonly found on combe or hill slopes and designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream. The water is carried along the valley sides via one or more channels or gutters and 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 March and April. The system is relatively small, covering almost 6 hectares of combe slopes. It probably tapped the tributary to the River Barle that flows to the north of the water meadow. As this also supplied two other nearby systems, a degree of organisation would have been required between farms. The gutters cannot be seen on aerial photographs of 1972. [1-3]

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 106G/UK/1944 3164 (23 January 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/72314 435-6 (16 August 1972).
  • <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 SE. MD002198. [Mapped feature: #32715 ]



Grid reference Centred SS 8824 3228 (472m by 173m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS83SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 SE69
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1490445

Record last edited

Oct 12 2021 10:57AM


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