MSO7008 - Post-medieval catchwater leats at Woolcombe Farm (Monument)


A series of catchwater leats are visible on aerial photographs taken in 1947, forming a water system. These are probably associated with Woolcombe Farm which was built after the enclosure of Exmoor Forest 1818.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Centred at SS 7990 3431 on steep southwest facing slopes in a combe to the west of Woolcombe farm, is a system of catchwater leats. [1,2] A post-medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks west of Woolcombe Farm, Exmoor. Centred at approximately SS 7990 3431, four leats are visible stretching across a southwest facing slope above a small tributary of Sherdon Water. This system appears to be connected to the farmyard at Woolcombe, suggesting that this was an integrated system which also distributed liquid manure as fertiliser to the fields. Catchwater meadows used a series of approximately parallel gutters to distribute flowing water evenly over the surface of the meadow in order to prevent freezing in winter and encourage early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock. Most catchwater meadows are believed to date to the post-medieval period, although it is possible that they were first developed in the medieval period. [1,3-6] The catch water meadow system will post date the enclosure of Exmoor Forest and the construction of Woolcombe Farm which occurred after 1818 (Inclosure Map). [7] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [8]

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 12 January 1995.
  • <2> 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.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/96559 123-24 (7 May 1996).
  • <4> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-29.
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Aerial photograph reference number . LHL CPE/UK/1980 3370 and 4158 (April 1947).
  • <6>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NE. MD002190. [Mapped feature: #40686 ]
  • <7> Verbal communication: Various. 1993-. Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Team staff comments. S Blaylock, 15 October 2013.
  • <8> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 923022, Extant 25 September 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7983 3432 (571m by 413m)
Map sheet SS73SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO330
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11800
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 SE32
  • National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 923022
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34372

Record last edited

Sep 25 2021 9:04PM


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