MSO6762 - 19th Century water meadow south and east of Newlands Farm (Monument)


A post-medieval catch work or field gutter system is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s as earthworks. It appears to tap a tributary of Pennycombe Water and comprised of at least four channels.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow system has been seen on aerial photographs around Newland Farm. [1,2] A water-meadow of probable 19th Century date, of a type known as a catch-work or field gutter system, is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s as earthworks associated with Higher Thorne, centred on circa SS 8265 3841. Such water-meadows are typically found on combe or hill slopes and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the slope via a series of roughly parallel channels or gutters. 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 the March and April. The water meadow appears to tap a tributary to Pennycombe water and comprise up to three roughly parallel gutters on the south-east side of the stream, visible over approximately three hectares. A single fourth gutter is visible on the northwest side of the stream. The gutters are not clearly visible on later aerial photographs, which may indicate that the gutters were levelled in the years following the Second World War. This is one of numerous water meadows recorded in this area, further examples known immediately to the northwest and southeast, at Ashott Barton and Withycombe. [2-5] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [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. 39.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. LHL/CPE/UK/1980 4315-7 (11 April 1947).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 106G/UK/1501 (F20) 4061-2 (13 May 1946).
  • <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 83 NW. MD002191. [Mapped feature: #46572 ]
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 9744671, Extant 10 August 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 826 384 (467m by 398m)
Map sheet SS83NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO381
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11812
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NW40
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 974467
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34390

Record last edited

Jan 4 2022 12:50PM


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