Ancient Monuments

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Moated site and associated enclosure at Rectory Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Pirton, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9746 / 51°58'28"N

Longitude: -0.3392 / 0°20'21"W

OS Eastings: 514171.49762

OS Northings: 231981.303187

OS Grid: TL141319

Mapcode National: GBR H5L.521

Mapcode Global: VHGNK.2MHN

Entry Name: Moated site and associated enclosure at Rectory Farm

Scheduled Date: 3 September 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009451

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20648

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Pirton

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Pirton

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes a moated site at Rectory Farm, situated on the flood
plain of the River Hiz, 2km north of the Icknield Way. The monument includes
a square shaped moat measuring 80m NW-SE by 75m SW-NE. The moat arms vary
between 3m and 10m in width and are all seasonally waterlogged except the
north-western arm which is constantly waterfilled. The south-western corner
of the moat has been infilled and the 17th century farmhouse, a Grade II*
Listed Building, now occupies this area. An internal bank, c.0.5m in height
and 3m in width, can be identified along the north-eastern and north-western
arms of the moat. To the north-east, and adjoining this moat, is another
moated enclosure which measures 70m NW-SE by 160m SW-NE. The moat arms are of
similar dimensions to those of the adjoining enclosure and are all dry with
the exception of the north-western arm. The south-east side of the moat abuts
the road and there is no trace of the moat arm on this side. The moated
system was once fed by a stream which runs into the north-western corner of
the whole complex.
The house, paths, drains and fences are all excluded from the scheduling
although the ground beneath all these features is included.

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.

The monument at Rectory Farm is unusual in that it has a double island, one
possibly having been for habitation, the other for horticulture. Despite
some infilling of the ditches and the construction of the 17th century
farmhouse, the monument survives well and evidence of the original medieval
structure that occupied the site survives on the island. Additionally, the
ditches will retain environmental evidence relating to the occupation of the
site and the economy of its inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


2221, Information from SMR (2221),

Source: Historic England

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