Ancient Monuments

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Moated site in Hills and Holes Plantation, 30m north west of Home Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Marham, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.657 / 52°39'25"N

Longitude: 0.5198 / 0°31'11"E

OS Eastings: 570527.382144

OS Northings: 309560.390273

OS Grid: TF705095

Mapcode National: GBR P6D.D7T

Mapcode Global: WHKQS.YGPZ

Entry Name: Moated site in Hills and Holes Plantation, 30m north west of Home Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009983

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20820

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Marham

Built-Up Area: Marham

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Marham Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes a rectangular moated site which has been identified as
the site of the fortified manor known as Marham Castle. It is located on
chalk, to the south west of Marham village and close to the southern edge of
the peat fen which at one time covered the floor of the Nar Valley.
The moated site has maximum overall dimensions of 80m north west - south east
by 77m north east - south west. The moat ditch, which is dry, measures
approximately 1m in depth and between 11m and 17m in width. A channel, also
dry and measuring up to 4m in width and 1m in depth, leads into it at the
western end of the south western arm, and the eastern end of the channel,
where it joins the moat, is included in the scheduling. The moat surrounds a
central platform raised approximately 1m above the prevailing ground level. On
this platform are the remains of a substantial building. The line of a circuit
wall is indicated by low banks, consisting largely of chalk rubble and
containing fragments of clay roof tile and other building materials, which
enclose a rectangular area with internal dimensions of approximately 30m by
20m. Mounds up to 1.5m in height, projecting externally at the four corners of
this enclosure, mark the location of what were probably turrets.
The manor at Marham, known subsequently as Belet's or Denham's, was held in
the second half of the 13th century by William Belet, who received
licence to crenellate (fortify) his house there in 1271, although in 1277
there were complaints that the castle was a threat to the king's authority in
the area. The manor then passed to Sir Ingelram Belet, a younger son who,
according to an inquisition of 1313, held a castle at Marham, ditched around.
In c.1365 the manor was held by John de Denham from the abbess of Marham
Nunnery, which lies 190m north east of the moated site, and by 1385 it was in
the hands of the abbess and convent of Marham.
Fences bordering the moat on the southern side and along part of the northern
edge are excluded from the scheduling, as are two drainage pipes issuing into
the southern arm of the moat at its eastern end, 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 moated site in Hills and Holes Plantation survives well and is one of the
best preserved examples of this class of monument in the Fenland region. It
is of particular interest as an example of a fortified manor, and retains good
evidence of the building which stood on site. Evidence of earlier land use on
the site, prior to the construction of the moat, will be preserved beneath the
raised surface of the central platform

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Leah, M, Mathews, M, Fenland Evaluation Project: Norfolk, (1990), 3
Silverster, R J, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in The Fenland Project 3: Norfolk Survey, Marshland and Nar Valley, , Vol. 45, (), 125
Dossier for H B M C, Davison, A, Fenland Evaluation Project, Norfolk, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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