MSO8583 - 19th Century water meadow at Great Ash Farm (Monument)


A post-medieval field gutter system is visible on aerial photographs taken in 1947.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A post-medieval water meadow system at Great Ash is visible on aerial photographs. [1-2] A water meadow of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs to the south of Great Ash Farm, with which it may is probably associated. The gutters are visible extending to the east and west along the slopes above the Winn Brook, covering an area of approximately 19 hectares. It is centred at SS 8751 3525, extends as far west as Little Ash and as far east as SS 8829 3528. The presence of some gutters is inferred from flooding visible on photographs taken in the 1940s. Bank defined boundaries in the fields immediately to the southwest of the farm buildings may be parts of the system, or could be former field boundaries. A sinuous bank defined boundary in the field to the south east seems to relate to the field gutters. This is a type of water meadow known as catchwork or field-gutter system, commonly found on combe or hill slopes and designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream. The water is carried along the valley sides via one or more channels or gutters and 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 March and April. The system probably taps the Winn Brook for water. Two gutters, marked on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1889, may also be situated to take advantage of spring fed tributaries feeding the Winn Brook from the south. The map evidence also confirms that the system had been constructed prior to 1889. [3-7] 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> 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: Aerial photograph reference number . CPE/UK/1980 3356 and 4352 (April 1947).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 3298-2 (11 July 1946).
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 4389-90 (11 July 1946).
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. ENPA MAL/77014 083-4 EXMOOR 77 INFRA-RED (20 May 1977).
  • <6> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <7>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NE. MD002192. [Mapped feature: #41693 ]
  • <8> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 974663, Extant 6 September 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8733 3530 (1909m by 290m)
Map sheet SS83NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO405
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11835
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NE61
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 974663
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34413

Record last edited

Sep 6 2021 10:31PM


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