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HER Number:MDV107664
Name:Catchmeadow West of Little Southdown Farm


A small simple integrated catchmeadow system associated with Southdown Farm is visible as a curvilinear earthwork ditch on aerial photographs taken between 1946 and 1966. Below-ground remains may survive.


Grid Reference:ST 072 147
Map Sheet:ST01SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBurlescombe
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBURLESCOMBE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CATCH MEADOW (XVIII to XIX - 1701 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

No features are depicted in this exact location.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/CPE/UK/1823, RAF/CPE/UK/1823 RP 4320-4321 04-NOV-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV354994.

A curvilinear earthwork ditch is visible.

Ordnance Survey, 1966, OS/66184 V, OS/66184 V 077-078 22-JUL-1966 (Aerial Photograph). SDV357044.

A dark curvilinear earthwork is visible.

Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R., 2014-2015, East and Mid Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV356883.

A narrow curvilinear earthwork ditch, less than 2 metres wide, is visible on aerial photographs taken between 1946 and 1966 on combe slopes west of Little Southdown Farm. It closely follows the contour, dropping less than 5 metres from its apparent origin at Little Southdown Farm to its visible terminus just south of Lower Elms. The lower segment is straighter and appears to end at the location of a small irregularly shaped feature, probably a pond, depicted on the early twentieth century mapping. The location and alignment along the contour indicate that this was a gutter of a small catchmeadow system of probable nineteenth or early twentieth century date.
Many catch meadow systems are believed to date to the post medieval period, although it is likely that they were first developed in the medieval period and often continued in use into the twentieth century. Catch meadows provided a simple, inexpensive and effective form of irrigation. When irrigation was required water was diverted from a source such as a pond, river, spring or spring-fed stream and passed along the meadow slopes via one or more of the gutters, which was then caused to overflow. The lower, roughly parallel gutters then ‘caught’ and redistributed water passing it evenly over the surface of a meadow below. The gently flowing water prevented the ground freezing in winter and encouraged early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock, particularly important during the hungry gap of the March and April.
Although its exact origin is not clear, the source of this small catch meadow system may have been a pond in the corner of a small yard at Little Southdown Farm. This and two open fronted sheds are depicted on the historic maps and although small this may have been an ‘integrated system’ that combined manure with water for distribution across the nearby fields. Remains of the gutters are not clearly visible on later available aerial photographs but some below ground features may survive.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV354994Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1823. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/CPE/UK/1823 RP 4320-4321 04-NOV-1946. [Mapped feature: #67086 ]
SDV356883Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2014-2015. East and Mid Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. Digital.
SDV357044Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1966. OS/66184 V. Ordnance Survey. Photograph (Paper). OS/66184 V 077-078 22-JUL-1966.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6530 - The East and Mid-Devon Rivers Catchment NMP project (Ref: ACD613)

Date Last Edited:May 14 2020 12:33PM