Ancient Monuments

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Western aqueduct near Netley Abbey

A Scheduled Monument in Woolston, Southampton

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Latitude: 50.8846 / 50°53'4"N

Longitude: -1.3544 / 1°21'15"W

OS Eastings: 445511.6415

OS Northings: 109653.398

OS Grid: SU455096

Mapcode National: GBR 884.DDH

Mapcode Global: FRA 861R.Q6H

Entry Name: Western aqueduct near Netley Abbey

Scheduled Date: 10 December 1975

Last Amended: 3 January 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008703

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24324

County: Southampton

Electoral Ward/Division: Woolston

Built-Up Area: Southampton

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Hound St Edward the Confessor

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


The monument includes the western of two aqueduct channels running southwards
through the eastern part of West Wood towards Netley Abbey, a Cistercian abbey
founded in 1239. The channel does not now reach the abbey precinct because of
modern building and landscaping, but it is also possible that the aqueduct
system was never completed. The direction of the channel suggests that the
aqueduct would have provided water for the main abbey buildings. Immediately
to the north east of these a series of ponds can still be seen.
The channel, which is 680m long, starts c.100m south of Newtown Road; it
initially runs south westwards but, after c.260m, turns southward
approximately along a contour and continues for another 420m before
terminating at a modern property boundary. Where undisturbed, the trench is up
to 5.5m wide and 1.25m deep; one section, thought to have been reinstated
after the infill of a former gravel pit to the east, is 6.5m wide and 2.25m
deep. A bank up to 1m in height and 2.5m wide survives on the western side of
the channel, but an eastern bank of similar size is only occasionally visible
at the northern end of the feature.
A dam or pond would have been needed to provide a continuous supply of water
to the aqueduct. A dam could have been sited on the line of Newtown Road,
immediately north of which is a steep-sided and irregular hollow known as
Tickleford Pond the subject of a separate scheduling; however, the channel
does not extend this far north, suggesting it was never completed.
Excluded from the scheduling are all fences, fence- and sign-posts and the
metalled access road to the infilled gravel pit south of Newtown Road, but the
ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

From the time of St Augustine's mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597
to the reign of Henry VIII, monasticism formed an important facet of both
religious and secular life in the British Isles. Settlements of religious
communities, including monasteries, were built to house communities of monks,
canons (priests), and sometimes lay-brothers, living a common life of
religious observance under some form of systematic discipline. It is estimated
from documentary evidence that over 700 monasteries were founded in England.
These ranged in size from major communities with several hundred members to
tiny establishments with a handful of brethren. They belonged to a wide
variety of different religious orders, each with its own philosophy. As a
result, they vary considerably in the detail of their appearance and layout,
although all possess the basic elements of church, domestic accommodation for
the community, and work buildings. Monasteries were inextricably woven into
the fabric of medieval society, acting not only as centres of worship,
learning and charity, but also, because of the vast landholdings of some
orders, as centres of immense wealth and political influence. They were
established in all parts of England, some in towns and others in the remotest
of areas. Many monasteries acted as the foci of wide networks including parish
churches, almshouses, hospitals, farming estates and tenant villages. Some 75
of these religious houses belonged to the Cistercian order founded by St
Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th century. The Cistercians - or "white monks",
on account of their undyed habits - led a harsher life than earlier monastic
orders, believing in the virtue of a life of austerity, prayer and manual
labour. Seeking seclusion, they founded their houses in wild and remote areas
where they undertook major land improvement projects. Their communities were
often very large and included many lay brethren who acted as ploughmen,
dairymen, shepherds, carpenters and masons. The Cistercians' skills as farmers
eventually made the order one of the richest and most influential. They were
especially successful in the rural north of England where they concentrated on
sheep farming. The Cistercians made a major contribution to many facets of
medieval life and all of their monasteries which exhibit significant surviving
archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

As an integral part of the surviving remains at Netley Abbey, the aqueducts
constitute an important and unusual component, particularly as they survive
well despite disturbance by modern development. Aqueducts of this date are
rarely known from archaeological remains, and the aqueducts and water
catchment area at Netley, as part of a possibly unfinished water distribution
system, give an insight into the planning and establishment of a Cistercian
monastery, as well as the economy of its inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Thompson, R, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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