MSO6298 - 19th Century water meadow at Ford Farm (Monument)


A post-medieval field gutter system is visible on aerial photographs taken in 1947. It is possibly associated with Ford Farm.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow of probable 19th Century date, of a type known as a catchwork or field gutter system, is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks to the south of Ford Farm, fed by a tributary to the River Avill. This is a relatively small system, covering circa 1 hectare centred on circa SS 9271 4229, some 250 metres to the south of Ford Farm, with which it may be associated. It may be part of a more extensive system to the south of the stream, which may be associated with the deserted farm at Spangate. However, small spoil heaps visible alongside the gutters on the aerial photographs of 1947 suggest recent maintenance of the system; as Spangate was deserted prior to this date an association with Ford Farm might be more probable. The water meadow is of a type known as a catchwork or field gutter system found on combe or hill slopes and designed to irrigate pasture usually by diverting water from a spring or stream along the valley sides via one or more 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 March and April. Any excess water then returned to the feeder stream at the valley bottom or was removed by a tail drain. [1-5]

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <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. 38.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Aerial photograph reference number . CPE.UK.1980 4178 (April 1947).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3200-2 (11 April 1947).
  • <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 94 SW. MD002186. [Mapped feature: #39975 ]



Grid reference Centred SS 927 423 (226m by 255m)
Map sheet SS94SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO540
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11925
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SW67
  • National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1086674
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34505

Record last edited

Jul 29 2020 2:04PM


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