Ancient Monuments

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Old Mountains moat, fishpond and warren

A Scheduled Monument in Helmdon, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.0816 / 52°4'53"N

Longitude: -1.1043 / 1°6'15"W

OS Eastings: 461474.723526

OS Northings: 242956.190425

OS Grid: SP614429

Mapcode National: GBR 9WL.HM2

Mapcode Global: VHCW5.TY14

Entry Name: Old Mountains moat, fishpond and warren

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 9 December 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009514

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13654

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Helmdon

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Wappenham St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


Old Mountains lies in a broad valley to the south-west of Astwell Park Farm,
just north of Crowfield. The monument consists of a moated site with a large
associated fishpond, and the nearby remains of a small warren.
The moated site covers an area approximately 110m x 100m. The moat island is
sub-rectangular and stands up to 1m above the surrounding land with a slight
inner bank about 0.5m high on its north, south and east sides. A triangular
area of the island on the west has been separated from the main moat island at
a later date by an oblique ditch. Within the moat island, on its west side,
two rectangular depressions indicate the locations of small ponds. The island
is surrounded by a partially waterlogged moat ditch between 1.5m and 2m deep
on the north, east and west sides. The southern ditch has been infilled
leaving a series of depressions and a small mound. The moat lies near to the
western edge of a deer park and is thought likely to be the location of the
park keeper's lodge.
Just to the south of the moat are the earthwork remains of a massive fishpond
and dam. The dam lies on the southern side of the site and spans the valley
of a stream. On the eastern side of the stream the dam stands as a bank up to
3m high, but on the western side the dam has been ploughed and survives as a
bank 1.5m high. It is thought that the pond originally covered the whole of
this field which on early maps is known as Pool Meadow. On the north-east
side of the dam lies a waterlogged ditch approximately 200m long which is
thought to be the remains of a water channel from the pond, and a low bank
which lies between this ditch and the moated site is also considered to be
part of the earthworks of the water management system.
On the north-west side of the field containing the large fishpond is a warren
consisting of two pillow mounds. One mound 15m long lies from north to south
and the second mound 55m long lies east to west; both mounds are between 1.5m
and 2m high.

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.

Old Mountains monument at Astwell has an unusually well preserved and built-up
island which retains considerable archaeological potential for the recovery of
evidence of building foundations and the pre-medieval ground surface in the
interior. The moated site is also associated with a fishpond and several
pillow mounds, both typical components, illustrating the various methods of
food production in the local medieval food economy.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , Archaeological sites of Northamptonshire, Volume III86-7

Source: Historic England

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