MSO6299 - 19th Century water meadow east of Fairgarden Farm (Monument)


A post-medieval field gutter system at Fairgarden Farm, visible on aerial photographs taken in 1947.

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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 east of Fairgarden Farm, Wootton Courtenay parish, with which it is probably associated. The gutters are probably fed by a spring to the south of the farm, at circa SS 933 421, and drain into a tributary to the Avill, via a system of probably post-medieval herringbone pattern drains visible as cropmarks to the northeast. The system is only fragmentarily visible but can be seen to cover an area of approximately 4 hectares centred on circa SS 9335 4221, not as mislocated in P. Francis' dissertation of 1984, SS 933 436 some 1.4 kilometres to the north. 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. [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 . RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20)4178 (11 April 1947).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3199-200 (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: #39976 ]



Grid reference Centred SS 934 423 (376m by 401m)
Map sheet SS94SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO541
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11926
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SW68
  • National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1086680
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34506

Record last edited

Jul 29 2020 1:55PM


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