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Upbury moated site and associated fishponds

A Scheduled Monument in Pulloxhill, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9973 / 51°59'50"N

Longitude: -0.4374 / 0°26'14"W

OS Eastings: 507377.822925

OS Northings: 234362.138908

OS Grid: TL073343

Mapcode National: GBR G3R.Q7H

Mapcode Global: VHFR1.C2M5

Entry Name: Upbury moated site and associated fishponds

Scheduled Date: 25 November 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009402

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24416

County: Central Bedfordshire

Civil Parish: Pulloxhill

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Pulloxhill

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


Upbury moated site is situated on relatively level ground some 150m to the
north of Gagmansbury Farm and 400m to the north west of a steep knoll
surmounted by the village of Pulloxhill. The monument consists of the remains
of the manor of Upbury, which comprise a central moated enclosure located
within a complex of ditches defining outer wards and including a series of
The central moated enclosure is rectangular in plan, measuring 55m north east
to south west by 38m north west to south east, and is surrounded by a water
filled ditch generally about 2m deep and 10m wide. A 4m wide causeway which
spans the centre of the south eastern arm is thought to be the original
entrance to the island. A second entrance has been provided in recent years by
partially infilling a 16m wide section of the north eastern arm. The interior
of the island shows a slight increase in height towards the centre and
contains a series of minor undulations which are considered to represent the
locations of earlier buildings. An estate map dated 1768 depicts a rectangular
building adjacent to the inner edge of the north eastern arm of the moat.
Further buildings are shown within the northern corner and in the vicinity of
the original entrance on an Enclosure Award Map dated 1820.
This small moated site is considered to be the earliest component of the
complex, probably dating to the 12th century. A larger moated enclosure,
thought to date from the 13th or 14th century, extends to the north, east and
south surrounding the earlier site. This irregular enclosure measures
approximately 200m north east to south west and 120m north west to south east,
and is defined by a series of partially water filled ditches of similar size
to those surrounding the smaller moated site. The north western side of this
enclosure is completed by the north western arm of the earlier moat and by the
broad, 40m long, supply channel which forms an extension to the south west.
The 1768 estate map shows this outer moated enclosure sub-divided into two
parts. Access to the northern half (termed `The Grove') was provided by a
causeway separating the ditches which converge at the northern corner, and by
a second causeway located between the two, off-set ditches which comprise the
north eastern arm of the moat. The ditches surrounding this northern section
of the enclosure are flanked by internal banks which vary between 4m and 9m in
width and average 1m in height. The area is further divided by a 0.5m high
bank which leads from the the eastern corner of the inner enclosure to the
causeway across the north eastern arm of the outer ditch. This feature forms a
division between an area of cultivation earthworks (ridge and furrow) to the
north west and a series of low earthworks to the south east, thought to
indicate further building platforms and yards. The south eastern arm of the
outer moat terminates at a distance of about 100m from the eastern corner of
the enclosure. The intervening gap which separates this section from the
continuation of the arm some 60m further south, contains no evidence of an
infilled ditch, and is considered to be the principal entrance to the outer
enclosure. A series of buildings is shown in this area on the 1768 map,
situated on the alignment of the ditches and extending towards the south
western arm of the inner moat. A small pond situated adjacent to the eastern
corner of the inner moat is also depicted. The section of the outer enclosure
to the south of these structures, termed `The Green', contains further raised
areas and hollows. Some of these features correspond to the locations of
buildings shown on the 1820 Enclosure Map, although others are thought to
relate to buildings and activities associated with the earlier occupation of
the site.
The south western arm of the outer moat becomes more narrow towards the west
reaching a minimum width of about 4m. This ditch is separated from the main
supply channel (which extends for a further 80m on the same alignment) by a
narrow causeway. The main channel, which also supplies the north western arm
of the inner moat, measures approximately 12m wide and 1.5m deep, and is
flanked on the southern side by a bank, 5m wide and 0.6m high. The channel
contains a narrow central gully formed by the passage of water, and defines
the south western edge of a further rectangular enclosure to the west of the
central moated site. The north western and north eastern arms of this
subsidiary enclosure, which measures 100m north east to south west by 50m
transversely, are similarly marked by a partially water filled ditch, 10m in
width and 1.5m in depth. The eastern end of the north western ditch is
approximatley 1m higher than the adjacent supply channel, and is separated by
a 1.2m high bank which retains evidence of an overflow leat. The interior of
the enclosure (named as `The Great Orchard' on the 1768 map) retains traces of
settlement or cultivation earthworks, and the remains of a 3m wide bank which
survives to a height of 0.4m-1m around all but the south eastern perimeter.
Access to this island was provided by a 6m wide gap between the terminal of
the north eastern arm of the ditch and the northern corner of the central
A linear pond, 50m in length and 12m in width, flanks the southern side of the
south western arm of the larger outer enclosure (the `Green'). Material from
the moat and/or the pond has been used to raise the surface of an 8m wide
island which separates these features, so that it now stands about 1m above
the surrounding ground level. A narrow ditch has been cut between the moat
and the northern corner of the pond to provide a supply of water. This,
however, is a recent alteration superseding an earlier c.8m wide ditch (now
infilled) which surrounded a rectangular extension to the north west of the
present island. The pond, together with the connecting channels and the
adjacent arm of the moat (which is some 14m wide) forms a complex of ponds
which would have served for breeding fish. The outflow channels from the
southern end of the pond and the moat converge to supply a second pond
situated some 20m to the west. This pond is shown on the 1768 map forming the
western corner of a square moated enclosure called `The Little Orchard', which
measures approximately 35m across. The pond has recently been extended to the
north, and the upcast material used to fill the ditches which surround all but
the north western side of the enclosure. The ditches, however, remain visible
as slight depressions measuring some 8m in width.
The name of the manor is thought to derive from the Anglo Saxon personal name
`Hutta' and the term `burh': meaning a defended settlement or enclosure. The
earliest recorded versions of the name, such as `Hutteberia, Hubberia and
Upbiri' occur in documents dating from the late 12th and early 13th centuries;
and coincide with the period during which the central moated enclosure is
considered to have been constructed, perhaps on the site of an earlier
settlement. The manor was held by Roger de Hucburi in the early 13th century
and is recorded in the possession of Hugo Blundel de Ubbury in 1333. A
monument in Pulloxhill church commemorates George Fitz Esq. lord of the manor
of Beeches and Upbury who died in 1603. Fitz was succeeded by Sir William
Briars who acquired the property by marriage. The manor was occupied by the
Day Family in the early years of the 18th century and passed to the De Greys
of Wrest Park shortly thereafter.
All fences and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these features 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 monument known as Upbury is one of the most elaborate and best preserved
moated sites in Bedfordshire. The monument illustrates a sequence of
development from a small moated site to a large complex of interconnected
enclosures which indicates both the importance of the manor within the
district and the social standing of the inhabitants. The complex of ditches
surrounding the various enclosures retains detailed evidence of the water
management system and includes a series of fishponds which cast light on the
economy of the settlement. The interiors of the islands contain evidence
of buried structures relating to the medieval and post medieval occupation of
the site, and retain a number of earthworks providing evidence for
contemporary cultivation practices. Despite some infilling, the ditches will
retain both artefactual and environmental evidence relating to the occupation
of the site and the landscape in which it was set. The importance of the site
is further enhanced by the existence of historical documents which refer to
the medieval and post medieval use of the site, and by the possibilty
suggested by the placename of an earlier, Anglo-Saxon predecessor to the
moated manor. Upbury lies within an area where moated sites are relatively
numerous thereby enabling social and chronological variations to be explored.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Lysons, Reverend D, Lysons, S, Magna Britannia, (1806), 126
Mawer, A, Stenton, F, The Place Names of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, (1926)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Bedfordshire, (1908), 376
Wadmore, B, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire, (1920), 217-9
'Bedfordshire Notes and Queries' in Bedfordshire Notes and Queries, , Vol. 3, (), 61
'Bedfordshire Magazine' in Bedfordshire Magazine, , Vol. 9, (1963), 11-12
1919, Transcriptions
Cookson, A, Upbury Moat, (1980)
dicussion of alterations, Sanders, J, Upbury Moated Site, (1993)
discussion during site visit, Sanders, J, Upbury Moated Site, (1993)
Enclosure Award Map, CRO MA 56 /1/1, (1820)
Entries for Day Family, Bedfordshire Parish Registers, Pulloxhill, (1700)
Estate Map for the De Grey Family, CRO L33/32, (1768)
Estate Map, CRO L33/32, (1768)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500
Source Date: 1974

Title: Revised Survey TL 03 SE 8 (Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series)
Source Date: 1973

Transcriptions, (1926)
Transcriptions, BHRS (Quarto), (1929)

Source: Historic England

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