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HER Number:MDV112691
Name:Catch Meadow or Leats West of Great Barton Farm, Broad Clyst


A possible simple catch meadow of probable post medieval date was visible on aerial photographs of 1947 as earthwork ditches on the banks of the River Clyst to the west of Great Barton Farm, Broad Clyst.
Catch meadows are usually found on combe or hill slopes and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream and passing it 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 below.


Grid Reference:SY 028 993
Map Sheet:SY09NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBroad Clyst
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCLYST ST.LAWRENCE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CATCH MEADOW (Post Medieval to XX - 1540 AD to 1947 AD (Between))
  • LEAT (Post Medieval to XX - 1540 AD to 1947 AD (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/1995, RAF/CPE/UK/1995 FS 2138-2139 13-APR-1947 (Aerial Photograph). SDV354842.

Two narrow earthwork ditches were visible.

Next Perspectives, 2010, Aerial Photography for Great Britain, Next Perspectives SY0299 22-MAY-2010 (Aerial Photograph). SDV356259.

The earthwork ditches were not visible and had probable been levelled.

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

Evidence of possible simple catch meadows of probable post medieval date was visible on aerial photographs of 1947 as two narrow earthwork ditches, one on either bank of the River Clyst, to the west of Great Barton Farm, Broad Clyst.
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.
In this instance the water source used to supply the possible catch meadow was probably abstracted directly from the River Clyst or a drain feeding into the watercourse. The ditch on the north-western side of the river, at circa SY02859938, might have operated as a simple catch meadow in isolation. The ditch on the south-eastern side of the river, at circa SY02859929 may have operated in a similar fashion, but could have irrigated only a very narrow strip of land and was possibly more likely to have acted as a lead or head main to provide water to a more extensive catch meadow to the south-west (MDV112595).
The leats or gutters were not visible on more recent images available to the survey and have probably been levelled

Sources / Further Reading

SDV354842Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/1995. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/CPE/UK/1995 FS 2138-2139 13-APR-1947. [Mapped feature: #72060 ]
SDV356259Aerial Photograph: Next Perspectives. 2010. Aerial Photography for Great Britain. Aerial Photography for Great Britain Aerial Photographs. Digital. Next Perspectives SY0299 22-MAY-2010.
SDV356883Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2014-2015. East and Mid Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. Digital.
Linked documents:1

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:Jun 24 2015 10:46AM