Ancient Monuments

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Hall Close moated site, fishponds, trackway, field system and dovecote

A Scheduled Monument in Riseley, Bedford

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Latitude: 52.2585 / 52°15'30"N

Longitude: -0.4724 / 0°28'20"W

OS Eastings: 504361.661687

OS Northings: 263354.158403

OS Grid: TL043633

Mapcode National: GBR G0M.7F3

Mapcode Global: VHFPN.RHMJ

Entry Name: Hall Close moated site, fishponds, trackway, field system and dovecote

Scheduled Date: 4 January 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008733

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20450

County: Bedford

Civil Parish: Riseley

Built-Up Area: Riseley

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Riseley

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes a rectangular moated site with integrated fishponds, an
old sunken trackway linking the moat with Riseley village, the headland of a
ridge-and-furrow field system to the north of the moat and the foundations
of a circular dovecote located at the northern end of the trackway. The
monument is situated on land which slopes gently down to the Riseley Brook, a
tributary of the River Kym; it lies just over 400m to the north-east of
Riseley Church in a field known as Hall Close.
The moated site measures at least 200m by 110m in plan. The north-western arm
of the moat comprises two parallel fishponds separated by a 0.5m high bank;
the outer pond is 8m wide by 1.2m deep while the inner pond is 14m wide by 1m
deep. A third smaller pond 50m long, 10m wide by about 1m deep is linked to
the inner pond at its south-west end and there are sluices giving out into the
north-eastern and south-western arms of the moat; these arms are each formed
by a 5m wide ditch. The north-eastern arm drains into a water-filled pond 50m
long by 14m wide and at least 1m deep. The south-eastern arm of the moat is a
10m wide ditch which is partially infilled so that it is about 0.5m deep; the
ditch runs from about half-way along the pond on the north-eastern arm of the
moat and links up with the end of the south-western arm; with the aid of
aerial photographs the ditch is observed to continue in the adjacent field
where it has been levelled. Part of a second parallel ditch is visible as a
slight earthwork running for 40m south-west of the end of the north-eastern
arm but the continuation of this outer ditch has been obscured by later
quarrying. Aerial photographs show a roughly rectangular enclosure, bounded
by an infilled ditch, extending 60m to the south-east of the end of the
north-eastern arm of the moat and an outflow leat which runs to the river.
Within the moat, an inner island about 70m square is created by a pair of
ditches at right-angles to each other; this area is thought to have been used
as a garden whilst an area of disturbed ground on the outer island to the
south-east is considered to be the site of a manor house.
A sunken trackway, up to 25m wide, runs from the south-west corner of the
moated site towards the river where it diverges into three paths, probably
indicating that a number of crossing-points were used (on the opposite bank,
the modern path giving access to Hall Close appears to have respected the
course of one of these). Two minor sunken paths run north-eastward of the
main track, crossing the field.
Along the edge of the field north of the moated site are a series of ridges
which are the surviving ends of cultivation earthworks associated with
medieval field systems that lay beyond the moat. Because ploughing of the
adjacent fields has removed all surface traces of these earthworks, the
survival of the headland within Hall Close provides important evidence of the
medieval farming at Riseley.
A 25m diameter circular structure, comprising a low ring-shaped bank located
at the northern end of the trackway, is thought to be the foundations of a
dovecote. Because of its location in the path of the track, it is thought
that the dovecote was built after the trackway went out of common use.
The field was mentioned in a will of 1673 as `Hall Dole' and a deed of 1588
records the conveyance of site and buildings at `Haule Close'.
Fences within the area are excluded from the scheduling although the ground
beneath 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

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.

The moated site at Hall Close is a well-preserved example of a moated site
incorporating a complex system of water-management features. Waterlogged
conditions in the moat, ponds and associated drains and sluices will preserve
a range of environmental and organic remains. Analysis of these would allow a
reconstruction of the medieval environment at this site, as well as providing
further detail on the fish farming and horticulture being undertaken here.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Beds Notes and Queries' in From Beds Notes and Queries Volume 3, , Vol. 3, (), 328
CRO record: CRT 130, Riseley,
Northants CC 300a/23; 25/01/86, (1986)
Simco, A, Beds SMR record 347, (1989)
Title: Ordnance Survey Record
Source Date: 1977

Source: Historic England

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