Ancient Monuments

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Moat Farm moated enclosure and associated settlement earthworks

A Scheduled Monument in Marston Moretaine, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 52.0607 / 52°3'38"N

Longitude: -0.5533 / 0°33'11"W

OS Eastings: 499280.54308

OS Northings: 241246.61482

OS Grid: SP992412

Mapcode National: GBR F1H.QYL

Mapcode Global: VHFQL.CGCM

Entry Name: Moat Farm moated enclosure and associated settlement earthworks

Scheduled Date: 18 April 1991

Last Amended: 17 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010112

English Heritage Legacy ID: 11547

County: Central Bedfordshire

Civil Parish: Marston Moretaine

Built-Up Area: Marston Moretaine

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Marston Morteyne

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The medieval moated site and associated settlement earthworks at Moat Farm lie
to the west of the modern village of Marston Moretaine. The moated site is
rectangular in form, measuring 74m by 95m, inclusive of the surrounding 12m
wide, water-filled ditches. Two short projections of the moat ditch extended
from the south and east corners. These extensions were infilled in 1973.
Moat Farm, a grade II* Listed Building, stands within the eastern part of the
island. This building, which includes the remains of a 15th century cruck-
framed hall, is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is
included as it will retain evidence of earlier occupation. A series of low
earthworks to the south west of the house mark the foundations of further
buildings and features within the island. The moated site is thought to have
been constructed in the 14th century, superseding an earlier moated site
situated in the grounds of the rectory some 200m to the south west. To the
south east of the moated enclosure, a series of rectangular raised earthworks
extends for about 300m flanking the northern side of the Woburn Road. These
features, which range in size from 5m by 10m to 10m by 30m, survive to a
maximum height of 0.7m and are considered to mark the location of an
associated settlement. In the western part of the site the platforms are
aligned along the southern side of a hollow way which extends from the edge of
the gardens of Moat Farm Cottages. The northern edge of the hollow way is
defined by a 0.5m high bank which extends for about 20m from the garden
boundary. This bank, or headland, marks the southern limit of a series of
cultivation earthworks (ridge and furrow) which extend across the fields to
the north. The building platforms extend to the east, separated by about 40m
from the south-east arm of the moat. This intervening area contains a diffuse
pattern of low earthworks which are thought to mark the positions of further
out-buildings associated with the moated site.
Moat Farm, the surface of Moat Farm carpark, all fences and fence posts and
the surfaces of the access roads crossing the site, are excluded from this
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.

Moat Farm survives in a very good condition and is one of the finest examples
of a single island moated site in Bedfordshire. Despite modifications to the
moat, the ditch silts, particularly within the infilled sections, will contain
both artefactual and environmental evidence relating to medieval and post-
medieval occupation. The island contains a standing building which is in part
contemporary with the late medieval occupation of the site, and the buried
remains of earlier structures and features which will reflect the character of
the original settlement. The monument lies within an area where moated sites
are particularly numerous enabling chronological and social variations to be
explored. Two former moated sites are known to have existed to the south of
the Woburn Road, both within 350m of Moat Farm. The importance of the
monument is enhanced by the direct association between the moated site and a
range of well preserved earthworks which include the remains of part of a
contemporary settlement. The relationship between these two aspects of the
monument provides important evidence for the social and economic development
of the overall site, illustrating both the interdependence of these
contrasting forms of settlement and the disparity between the lifestyles of
the inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Allden, A, Bedfordshire Archaeological Parish Survey, (1979)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Bedfordshire, (1908)
Wadmore, B, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire, (1920)
Simco, A, 'Beds C.C. Report' in Moat Farm, Marston Moretaine, (1986)
2/36, DOE, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, Barton le Clay,
Barton, N., AA 046414/1: Correspondence with owner, (1990)
CRO R1/259, (1859)

Source: Historic England

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