Ancient Monuments

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Moated site north of Apsley End

A Scheduled Monument in Shillington, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 51.988 / 51°59'16"N

Longitude: -0.3675 / 0°22'2"W

OS Eastings: 512200.009242

OS Northings: 233433.726478

OS Grid: TL122334

Mapcode National: GBR H5C.9X4

Mapcode Global: VHFR2.L939

Entry Name: Moated site north of Apsley End

Scheduled Date: 3 July 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009586

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20428

County: Central Bedfordshire

Civil Parish: Shillington

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Shillington and Gravenhurst

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes a medieval moated site situated on low lying ground some
300m north of the crossroads at Apsley End. The moat is rectangular in plan
with rounded corners and has external dimensions of 70m north-south by up to
50m east-west. The moat ditch is almost 2m deep and holds standing water.
Three arms of the ditch are about 12m wide but the eastern arm is considerably
wider because its outer scarp is gently sloping and extends for a further 10m
or so to the east. An 8m wide causeway, located at the centre of the eastern
arm, gives access to the island which measures about 45m by 18m and is level
with the surrounding land. An overflow channel, 5m wide by 0.5m deep, leaves
the north-west corner of the moat and extends for about 30m to the north. The
channel originally drained into a stream whose extinct course can be observed
to the west of the moat.
The moat is considered to be the site of a medieval manor house. Buildings
survived on the island as late as the 19th century and are depicted on the
enclosure map of 1817. Fragments of building stone have been noted in rabbit
The wooden fence which crosses the overflow channel to the north of the moat
is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath it 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 moated site north of Apsley End is a well-preserved example of a small
rectangular type with a moat ditch which retains waterlogged silts, from which
environmental data may be recovered, and an island that contains evidence in
the form of building remains. The monument lies in an area where smaller
moated sites are particularly numerous and therefore chronological and social
variations between sites may be explored.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Howlitson, M, Moated Sites Survey, (1980)
Ms. S. Weston, (1991)
P.A.S., Ordnance Survey Record, (1973)
Title: Beds. CRO: MA43 Enclosure map
Source Date: 1817

Source: Historic England

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