MSO7433 - 19th Century water meadow at Holt Ball Farm (Monument)


A post-medieval field gutter system at Holt Ball Farm, visible on aerial photograhs taken in 1947.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow of probable nineteenth century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks to the northwest and southeast of Holt Ball, with which they are probably associated. The gutters are probably fed by spring-fed streams which flow to the south of the farm. The two visible areas of water meadow are divided by an area of woodland, probably part of Barnspark plantation, and as such it is not possible from the photographs alone to be sure if they are part of a coherent single water meadow or two individual systems. Regardless, they are of a type known as catchwork or field-gutter systems, 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. [1-7]

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. 37.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3178, 3179.
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3179-80 (11 April 1947).
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4229-30 (11 April 1947).
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/79013 251-2 (17 April 1979).
  • <7> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <8>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 94 SW. MD002186. [Mapped feature: #39974 ]



Grid reference Centred SS 917 439 (184m by 296m)
Map sheet SS94SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO538
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11923
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SW65
  • National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1086669
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34503

Record last edited

Jul 29 2020 10:56AM


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