Water meadows as part of the European agricultural heritage

J. Renes, Csaba Centeri, Sebastian Eiter, Bénédicte Gaillard, Alexandra Kruse, Oskar Puschmann, Michael Roth, Martina Slámová

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


From the Middle Ages until the twentieth century, water meadows in Europe were primarily irrigated to improve their productivity and to lengthen the growing season. They were water management systems designed to collect and use water and to discharge it: water had to be kept moving. This chapter presents a general overview and a history of research on European water meadows. It also examines examples from the sandy landscapes of northwestern Europe, from Slovakia, and Norway. Three main types of water meadows are distinguished: simple dam systems, more elaborate catchworks, and highly developed bedworks. Of these, bedworks were technically and organizationally the most complex; they were also the most costly in construction and maintenance. Most water meadows were abandoned in the twentieth century; in many places, however, their traces can still be recognized in the landscape. They are both an interesting part of European agrarian and landscape heritage and a carrier of regional identity. In recent years, a number of water meadows have been restored, for ecological, water management, tourism, and heritage purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdaptive strategies for water heritage
Subtitle of host publicationPast, present and future
EditorsCarola Hein
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Publishing
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9783030002688
ISBN (Print)9783030002671
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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