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A moated site 200m north east of St Peter's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Milton Bryan, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9677 / 51°58'3"N

Longitude: -0.5852 / 0°35'6"W

OS Eastings: 497291.281796

OS Northings: 230860.296021

OS Grid: SP972308

Mapcode National: GBR F2M.NVD

Mapcode Global: VHFQY.SSZX

Entry Name: A moated site 200m north east of St Peter's Church

Scheduled Date: 13 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009401

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24413

County: Central Bedfordshire

Civil Parish: Milton Bryan

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Milton Bryan

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The moated site at Church End is located on a south east facing slope
approximately 200m to the north east of St Peter's Church, Milton Bryan. The
monument consists of a rectangular, medieval moated enclosure, with a hollow
way approaching the site from the south and a supply channel entering the moat
from the north.
The moated island measures 50m east to west and 36m north to south, and is
surrounded on all sides by a ditch which is between 3m and 4m wide. The ditch,
which is seasonally water-filled, varies between 0.5m and 1m in depth and
shows evidence of silting within the northern arm. The surface of the island
slopes gently to the south east and contains a central raised area. This
platform, which measures 25m east to west by 10m north to south, survives to a
height of 0.3m, and is considered to indicate the foundations of a range of
buildings. The edge of the island retains traces of a bank extending for 2m-3m
from the inner scarp of the surrounding ditch. This is visible to a height of
c.0.4m around most of the perimeter, although a section has been removed by
the construction a large pond within the north west corner of the enclosure. A
second pond has been formed by extending the outer edge of the ditch towards
the southern end of the western arm. A short section of counterscarp bank
survives to the north of this pond and extends for about 20m flanking the
northern arm of the ditch. The ponds are depicted on an Enclosure Award map
dated 1793, and are considered to be post-medieval in date.
Access to the island is provided by two causeways crossing the centres of the
northern and southern arms of the moat, neither of which is thought to be
original. A hollow way, some 6m wide, and 0.4m deep extends approximately 80m
to the south of the southern arm. This is considered to be the original
approach to the site, and presumably led to a bridge or former causeway
slightly to the west of the present entrance. The moat was originally supplied
with water from a spring located near the road some 60m to the north. A supply
channel, 4m wide and up to 0.8m in depth, extends from the field boundary on
the southern side of the road to the northern arm of the ditch. A second leat
joins a wide channel which enters the pond in the north west corner of the
enclosure. This however, is thought to have been enlarged during the post-
medieval period.
The supply channel to the north of the moated site forms the western limit of
a series of cultivation earthworks (ridge and furrow) aligned across the
hillside to the east. This pattern of earthworks extends to the east and south
east of the enclosure, although separated by a modern field boundary which
extends from the southern arm of the moat. The ridge and furrow to the south
of the moated site is contained by a 2m wide headland which marks the eastern
edge of the hollow way. The cultivation earthworks appear to have developed
after the establishment of the moated site, and provide an archaeological
The 1793 Enclosure Award map shows five lanes entering the village, four of
which converge to enclose the area surrounding the moated site. The location
of these communication routes, together with the proximity of the medieval
church, indicate the importance of the site which represented the focal point
of the medieval and early post-medieval settlement. The village takes its name
from the Brian family who held the manor from the later 12th century until
1344 when it was acquired by Woburn Abbey. The manor was annexed to the Honour
of Ampthill after the Dissolution, thereafter passing through several owners
until purchased by the Duke of Bedford in 1906. The presence of a later manor
situated some 600m to the south indicates possible abandonment of the Church
End site in the 17th century.
A 5m sample of the cultivation earthworks is included in the scheduling in
order to protect the archaeological relationship between these features and
the supply channel, the eastern arm of the moat, and the hollow way. A 2m
margin, considered essential for the continued support and protection of the
outer edge of the ditch, is included around the remaining perimeter of the

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 Church End is a well preserved example of a small, single
island type, with surviving evidence of the water management system. The silts
within the undisturbed sections of the surrounding ditch will contain both
artefactual and environmental evidence relating to the period of occupation,
and the island retains the foundations of former buildings. The importance of
the monument is enhanced by the existence of a hollow way approaching the site
from the south, and by its association with a series of contemporary
cultivation earthworks which illustrate the developing economy of the
The monument lies within an area where moated sites are particularly numerous,
enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. The existence of
documentary records, placing the moated site within the context of the
adjacent village, adds to the significance of the monument.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Milton Bryan' in Bedfordshire Parish Survey, (1979)
Enclosure Award Map, CRO MA 70, (1793)
location of springs, Glasse, J, (1993)
Ref:12/57, DOE, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, District of Mid Bedfordshire, (1961)
Ref:12/67, DOE, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, District of Mid Bedfordshire, (1961)

Source: Historic England

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