Ancient Monuments

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Newton Bury moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Dunton, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 52.0869 / 52°5'12"N

Longitude: -0.2109 / 0°12'39"W

OS Eastings: 522678.621959

OS Northings: 244678.898683

OS Grid: TL226446

Mapcode National: GBR J5R.1J3

Mapcode Global: VHGN1.9TC2

Entry Name: Newton Bury moated site

Scheduled Date: 7 March 1991

Last Amended: 30 November 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010113

English Heritage Legacy ID: 11538

County: Central Bedfordshire

Civil Parish: Dunton

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Dunton

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The moated site at Newton Bury lies approximately 1km to the north west of the
village of Dunton. The monument includes the remains of a rectangular
medieval moated enclosure situated in the south west corner of a larger outer
enclosure. The inner moated enclosure measures c.90m east to west by 80m
north to south. The surrounding moat has been infilled along the eastern
side, though its course is still visible as a shallow depression, 6m wide by
1m deep. Elsewhere it measures up to 4m deep and is currently dry. The north
east and south west angles of the moat have been enlarged to form ponds,
probably during the post-medieval period. Cattle were watered at the pond
situated in the north east angle. The interior contains the remains of Newton
Bury farmhouse.

The outer enclosure extends to the north and east of the inner moat. There is
a well in the southern part of this enclosure. The visible earthworks consist
of a junction of two ditches and a separate section of bank. The ditches
measure some 9m wide and 1m deep and form the north eastern corner of the
enclosure. An outflow leat, connected to a modern drain to the east, is
associated with these ditches. The section of ditch delineating the north
side of the enclosure has recently been backfilled, but it will survive as a
buried feature. The remainder of the north side of the outer enclosure is
defined by a 2m high bank attached to the north east angle of the moat. The
bank is on the same alignment as the recently backfilled ditch and may have
once survived along the inner edge of the outer enclosure. The south east
angle of the outer enclosure can be traced on the ground as a soil mark and a
shallow depression. Historical documents relating to Newton Bury Manor trace
ownership and descent from 1504.

An unmetalled farm track crosses the outer enclosure. The surface of the track
and all fences and posts are excluded from the scheduling although the ground
beneath 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 at Newton Bury is a well-preserved example of a small, double-
island type which retains evidence of the water management system. Despite
alterations to the monument, particularly the infilling of sections of the
ditches and the later use of the moated enclosures as a farm, the major part
of the site has survived with minimal disturbance. Environmental evidence
will be preserved in the silts within the ditches, and the islands will
contain evidence of the original buildings.
The monument lies in an area where moated sites are particularly numerous
enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. The existence of
historical records relating to the ownership of the site further enhances its

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Denroche, E, Newton Bury Moat, Dunton, (1978)
Mawer, A, Stenton, F, Placenames of Beds. and Hunts., (1926)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Bedfordshire, (1908)
Description of estate holdings, CRO: FN 539, (1625)
Ordnance Survey Records, Newton Bury Moat, Dunton, (1972)

Source: Historic England

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