MSO6301 - 19th Century water meadow at Burrow Farm (Monument)


A post-medieval catchwater or field gutter system is visible on aerial photographs taken in 1947. It is likely associated with Burrow Farm to the south.

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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 north of Burrow Farm, with which it is probably associated. The water meadow is fed by a tributary to the River Avill which passes through the centre of the system, and forms the parish boundary between Wootton Courtenay and Timberscombe parishes. This is a large system centred on circa SS 9390 4230, covering area of circa 13 hectares of relatively gentle slope to the north of Burrow Farm. A further small area of gutters can be seen circa 150 metres to the northeast, but this may belong to Well Farm. 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. [1-6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <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. 40.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 4179.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3199-200 11-APR-1947.
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 58/2665 (F21) 0074-5 08-JAN-1959.
  • <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 94 SW. MD002186. [Mapped feature: #39979 ]



Grid reference Centred SS 939 424 (510m by 520m)
Map sheet SS94SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO544
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11932
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SW71
  • National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1086685
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34512

Record last edited

Aug 17 2020 8:56PM


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