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Medieval moated manorial site of Low Dinsdale at the Manor House

A Scheduled Monument in Neasham, Darlington

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Latitude: 54.4931 / 54°29'35"N

Longitude: -1.4674 / 1°28'2"W

OS Eastings: 434595.804174

OS Northings: 510997.717155

OS Grid: NZ345109

Mapcode National: GBR LJ6H.33

Mapcode Global: WHD78.FBGB

Entry Name: Medieval moated manorial site of Low Dinsdale at the Manor House

Scheduled Date: 13 June 1968

Last Amended: 27 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007715

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20873

County: Darlington

Civil Parish: Neasham

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Dinsdale

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument includes a medieval manorial site and related earthworks situated
within a double moated enclosure on flat land which rises gently to the west
and slopes down to the River Tees on the north. The inner enclosure is roughly
circular in shape and is defined by a prominent ditch 15m across and 1m deep.
It encloses a flat island which measures 50m east-west by 40m north-south. An
entrance way, via a Listed Grade II late medieval bridge on the south-east
side of the moat, may represent the position of an original causeway or
drawbridge giving access to the island. The site of the medieval manor house
is located at the southern end of the island. Although encased and extended,
the medieval core of the main block survives in the fabric of the present
house, a Listed Grade II* building. Excavations in the late 19th century
uncovered the foundations and lower vaulted storey of a gatehouse to the
south-east of the present house. The outer enclosure, an irregular polygon in
shape, is formed by a second ditch, shallow on the east side but varying
between 1.2m and 2.5m deep on the west and north sides and measuring 8m
across. Immediately inside this ditch is a prominent bank measuring 7m across
and surviving in places to a height of 1.5m. An original entrance is visible
in the south-east which survives as a deep hollowed path breaching the bank
and ditch of the outer enclosure. In total, the area enclosed by the outer
ditch and bank measures a maximum of 225m east-west by 240m north-south. The
area between the outer and inner enclosures is occupied by numerous
earthworks, remains of banks, ditches and hollow tracks, some of which appear
to be earlier than the moated site as they are truncated by it. Several others
are, however, contemporary with, or later than, the moated site and have the
appearance of enclosures for holding stock or other agricultural purposes.
Immediately north of the inner moat are the remains of an ornamental fishpond,
the present form of which is the result of Victorian and later alterations but
which may have had a medieval precursor. A large square bowling or croquet
green immediately south of the inner moat, which survives as an earthwork
feature, is also of relatively recent date. The moated site was the manorial
seat of the Surtees family from the 12th century until the 19th century.

Excluded from the scheduling are all buildings, the listed bridge across
the inner moat, the septic tanks to the north of the outbuildings of Manor
House Farm, all fences, power lines and lamp posts and the surface of the
access drive to the manor house but the ground beneath all these features is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and
exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a
significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding
of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

Although a large number of moated sites survive in England, relatively few are
known in the northern counties, including County Durham. The moated site at
the Manor House is of unusual form with the existence of the outer enclosure
and related earthworks, all of which survive in an excellent state of
preservation. The circular form of the inner moat suggests a very early date
of construction. This form of moat is also rare north of the Humber estuary.
This monument, together with other medieval sites of similar and different
form which survive in the region, will greatly contribute to our understanding
of medieval rural life and economy in Durham.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gould, I C, The Victoria History of the County of Durham: Volume I, (1905)
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: County Durham, (1983)
III, Vyner, B E, Low Dinsdale, earthworks of the manorial establishment, Medieval Rural Settlement in North-East England, (1991)
Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle,
Title: Survey at 1:2500
Source Date: 1991

Topping, P (RCAME),

Source: Historic England

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