MSO8718 - Post-medieval water meadow at Halsgrove Farm (Monument)


The remains of a water meadow of post-medieval date have been noted from aerial photographs as fragmentary earthworks. It is unclear whether it functioned as a single or as multiple systems. It may have been levelled since 1947.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A post-medieval water meadow system has been noted on aerial photographs around Halsgrove. [1,2] Evidence for water-meadow use, employing a type known as a catch-work, ditch-gutter or field-gutter system, can be seen on aerial photographs of the 1940s surrounding Halsgrove. 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. However, it is unclear from the aerial photographs alone whether it functioned as a single or multiple systems. The only viable water source identifiable from the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map evidence are a tributary to Pennycombe Water, some 260 metres to the north and a spring to the south of the Farm. Two areas of parallel gutter can be seen, centred on circa SS 8429 3674 and SS 8442 3643. For these to operate as a single system, it may have been necessary to cut further gutters through Halsgrove Copse, which may have been uneconomic. Two single gutters are also visible to the east of the farm. None of the gutters can be clearly seen on later aerial photographs and all may have been levelled by post-war agricultural improvements. [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: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3316-7.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1896. County Series, First Edition 6 Inch Map. 1:10560. 1889.
  • <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: #40713 ]
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 974479, Extant 27 July 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO386
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11827
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NW45
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 974479
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34405



Grid reference Centred SS 8438 3661 (339m by 471m)
Map sheet SS83NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Jul 27 2021 12:16PM


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