MMO351 - 19th Century water meadow south of South Cheriton Farm (Monument)


Earthworks on an east facing slope, previously identified as cultivation terraces, are now thought to be part of an extensive water meadow system of 19th Century date that extends eastwards towards Farley Water.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

SS 7382 4660. McDonnell depicts a complex of low earthworks, possibly a hollow way and house platforms visible on aerial photographs. [1,2] The fields to the south of South Cheriton Farm, an area of about 2 hectares centred at SS 7375 4656, have been under improved pastureland for many years. The remains of a series of about 6 cultivation terraces, 10 metres to 15 metres wide and about 1.5 metres maximum height, cross the east facing slope in a north to south direction. At SS 7372 4661 a short length of hollow way leads to the modern farm buildings. No trace of house platforms was identified. No survey action. [3] Earthworks to the south of South Cheriton Farm, centred on circa SS 73754656 on an east facing slope, were previously identified as cultivation terraces. These earthworks are now thought to be part of an extensive water meadow system of 19th century date that extends eastwards for over 200 metres towards Farley Water, and is actually centred on circa SS 7385 4657. Known locally as a catchwork or field gutter system, this type of water meadow is usually found on steep combe sides and is designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the valley sides via a series of roughly parallel channels or gutters. When irrigation was required the gutters were blocked, causing water to overflow, 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. Any excess water then returned to the feeder stream at the valley bottom or was removed by a tail drain. The use of a series of parallel gutters to improve the coverage, as seen here, is a common feature of Exmoor systems. The earthworks originally recorded above are probably the remains of gutters which had already been plough damaged by 1947. The gutters to the east have been similarly levelled by 1995. [4-6] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [7]

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS7346C.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3050-1 (11 April 1947).
  • <3> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 25 October 1994.
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS95026 057 (12 March 1995).
  • <5> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1, 28-9.
  • <6>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NW. MD002173. [Mapped feature: #42147 ]
  • <7> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 926211, Extant 15 December 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7386 4658 (281m by 221m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 18010
  • Devon SMR: SS74NW/67
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE11721
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20741
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW61
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 926211

Record last edited

Dec 15 2021 11:33AM


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