Record Details

NHER Number:38996
Type of record:Monument
Name:Cropmarks of an elaborate post medieval drainage system


An elaborate drainage system, possibly akin to a catchwork system, is visible as earthworks on aerial photographs. A ladder-like arrangement of ditches can be seen immediately to the north of Fox's Beck, a minor watercourse that has been canalised. The ditches are aligned against a post medieval field boundary depicted on historic Ordnance Survey maps and the system appears to date to the same period. The layout and topographic position of the site suggests that it is associated with drainage and water management, and the ditches could have functioned in a manner similar to the catchwork (catchmeadow or field gutter) systems known from western England. These carried water from higher ground along horizontal gutters; when they were blocked the water flowed over the grass below causing a beneficial effect similar to a floated water meadow.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 2620 3512
Map Sheet:TG23NE

Full description

November 2004. Norfolk NMP.
A possible catchwork or similar water management system is visible as earthworks on aerial photographs (S1-2), centred at TG 2621 3513. Its alignment against a field boundary depicted on historic Ordnance Survey maps (S3), which itself may have acted as part of the system, indicates that it is of post-medieval date. Although catchwork systems are generally found in western England and on relatively steep hillside pastures (S4), the ditches described here might have been used in a similar way. The now virtually dry valley to their north might have provided a source of water which could have flowed along the short horizontal gutters from west to east before draining along the field boundary into Fox's Beck. Alternatively, the ditches might simply be drainage ditches, although their layout seems rather elaborate and their spacing rather close for this more mundane function.

The postulated catchwork system is visible across an area measuring approximately 137m long and 34.5m wide. Later aerial photographs of the area (S5), taken in 1988, indicate that the system still survived at least partially as an earthwork at this date.
S. Tremlett (NMP), 30 November 2004.

Monument Types

  • DITCH (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • DRAINAGE DITCH (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • DRAINAGE SYSTEM (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WATER MEADOW (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status


Sources and further reading

<S1>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1430 4485-6 16-APR-1946 (NMR).
<S2>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1634 5120-1 27-JUN-1946 (NMR).
<S3>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-7. Ordnance Survey second edition 25" (1902-7) Sheet XX. 9.
<S4>Article in Serial: Cook, H.F.. 1994. Field-Scale Water Management in Southern England to A.D. 1900.. Landscape History. Vol 16, pp 53-66. p 61.
<S5>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1988. OS/88130 102-3 27-MAY-1988 (NMR).

Related records - none

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