Ancient Monuments

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Fairburn Ings (Newton Abbey) moat

A Scheduled Monument in Ledsham, Leeds

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Latitude: 53.7446 / 53°44'40"N

Longitude: -1.3271 / 1°19'37"W

OS Eastings: 444477.270672

OS Northings: 427793.674237

OS Grid: SE444277

Mapcode National: GBR MT54.HD

Mapcode Global: WHDC0.L48M

Entry Name: Fairburn Ings (Newton Abbey) moat

Scheduled Date: 10 March 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009926

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13285

County: Leeds

Civil Parish: Ledsham

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Ledsham All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York


The moat at Fairburn Ings Nature Reserve is situated on low ground between the
River Aire and the higher limestone area to the north. Although the moated
site is now located within the area of an artificial lake, the site is not
entirely submerged; hence details of its form are still visible. The monument
consists of a single constraint area containing the ditch and central platform
of the moat. Archaeological features relating to the monument are also
believed to survive as buried deposits outside the moat but these are
presently not included in the scheduling as they are totally submerged beneath
the surrounding lake, which makes their exact location, extent and nature
The moat comprises a single sub-rectangular island measuring c.75m at its
widest point from north to south and c.50m from east to west. On all sides
the island is enclosed by a ditch which, although partially submerged, can be
seen clearly through the path of the vegetation growing along its outer edge
to vary between c.5m and 7m wide. The island, which is colonised by trees and
scrub and is a haven for waterfowl, contains fragments of walling and window
tracery. Substantial buried remains of the manor house and ancillary
buildings survive on the island and a manorial extent, or description, dating
to 1324 indicates the former existence of a dovecote and orchard. The moat is
understood to have been the site of the later manor house of the Wallis family
who held the vill of Newton Wallis from the mid-twelfth century. The site,
which appears to have been abandoned sometime in the first half of the
fourteenth century, is sometimes referred to as `Newton Abbey' or `Newton
Priory'. In the past this led to speculation that the site was at one time a
conventual retreat, but there is no evidence for this.

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.

Fairburn Ings moat survives well despite its present location. Waterlogged
organic material will be preserved in the surrounding moat whilst the remains
of the buildings which formerly occupied the site will survive on the island.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Le Patourel, H E J, Moated site of Yorkshire, (1973)
Padgett, L, Chronicles of old Pontefract, (1905)
Padgett, L, Castleford and District in the olden time, (1904)
Clay, C T, 'Yorkshire Deeds volume 5' in Manorial Extent, (1926)

Source: Historic England

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