MSO6764 - Post-medieval water meadow and field boundaries at Buckworthy (Monument)


A post-medieval field gutter system was noted on aerial photographs taken in the 1940s. It is relatively small, covering only c.2 hectares overlooking Pennycombe Water and may have been levelled by post-war agriculture.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A post-medieval water meadow system was noted on aerial photographs around Buckworthy. [1,2] The Somerset HER notes a water meadow system seen on aerial photographs around Buckworthy. A water meadow can be seen on aerial photographs of the 1940s centred on circa SS 8423 3730, to the south of the farm. Of probable 19th Century date, it is of a type known as a catch work, ditch gutter or field gutter system. 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 is relatively small, visible covering only circa 2 hectares on the southwest facing slopes overlooking Pennycombe water. The gutters cannot be clearly seen on later aerial photographs and may have been levelled by post-war agricultural improvements. [3-5] One of the features described above and noted by the NMP Project at c. SS 843 03724 [5] appears to be the remains of a field boundary shown on the Exford Tithe Map, which had been removed by the time the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map was produced. [5,6] 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. 3317.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3316-7 (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 83 NW. MD002191. [Mapped feature: #40649 ]
  • <6> Map: 1840. Exford Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <7> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 974472, Extant 10 August 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 842 372 (281m by 201m)
Map sheet SS83NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO383
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11814
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NW42
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 974472
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34392

Record last edited

Aug 10 2021 5:27PM


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