MSO11825 - Post-medieval water meadow system at North Batsom Farm (Monument)


A catchwork or field gutter system was noted on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks. The system was still in use in 1947 but was not clearly visible on later photographs.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow system was noted on aerial photographs around North Batsom Farm. [1] A series of earthworks channels are visible at North Batsom on aerial photographs of the 1940s, centred on circa SS 8491 3437. They are water channels are known as gutters forming a type of water meadow known as catchwork or field gutter system. Such systems are usually 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 water meadow is situated within a shallow combe to the east of Withypool Hill, between Hayes Wood and Kings Wood, and supplied with water a spring fed stream. The system can be seen in use on aerial photographs of 1947. Flushes of water alongside the hedgerow to the north of the farm indicate the presence of at least one gutter not visible on the available photographs, obscured by hedgerow vegetation and shadows. The system is not clearly visible on aerial photographs taken after 1964, with very few gutters visible on the images available on Google Earth at the time of Survey. [2-6] 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> Report: Francis, P.T.H.. 1984. A Survey and Description of the "Catch Meadow" Irrigation Systems Found in the Exmoor Region of West Somerset. 39.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3360-1.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 543/2821 (F61) 0158-9 (27 April 1964).
  • <4> Website: Various. Google Earth.
  • <5> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <6>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 SW. MD002197. [Mapped feature: #42249 ]
  • <7> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1491904, Extant 2 February 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 8493 3436 (264m by 241m) Aerial survey
Map sheet SS83SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO3168
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 SW90
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1491904
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34403

Record last edited

Feb 2 2022 4:28PM


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