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Lower Cleeton moat, a moat and fishponds 380m south east of Cleeton Court

A Scheduled Monument in Bitterley, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.4086 / 52°24'31"N

Longitude: -2.5779 / 2°34'40"W

OS Eastings: 360780.851582

OS Northings: 279114.727398

OS Grid: SO607791

Mapcode National: GBR BR.PB22

Mapcode Global: VH840.8QHD

Entry Name: Lower Cleeton moat, a moat and fishponds 380m south east of Cleeton Court

Scheduled Date: 21 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010496

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13689

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Bitterley

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Cleeton St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes Lower Cleeton moated site, an attached enclosure, three
associated fishponds and elements of a water management system. The complex
lies on the lower slopes of Titterstone Clee Hill, adjacent to a tributary of
Farlow Brook and overlooking ground falling gently to the north. It is thought
that this is the manorial site of Cleeton which was held in 1253 by the Lord
of the Manor, William Ledwich. By 1373 the manor had passed into the hands of
Sir Walter Huwet who sold the estate to the Abbot of Wigmore in Herefordshire.

The moated enclosure itself is roughly circular in plan and has an overall
diameter of 90m. The moat island has an internal diameter of 48m and its
surface is raised approximately 0.5m above the surrounding land surface.
Slight surface undulations in the interior are believed to represent the
positions of buried building foundations. The surrounding moat ditch remains
well defined throughout its length and averages 6m wide and 2.5m deep.
Although now largely dry, a small pond occupies the north east quarter of the
ditch. There is some evidence of stonework surviving around the edges of the
moat island, suggesting that the ditch may originally have had a stone
revetment. An outer bank 1.5m high and between 3m and 4m wide flanks the
ditch around the west, north and north east sides. At the north west corner of
the moat both the outer bank and the ditch are interrupted and a stream drains
to the north. At the south east corner of the moat a causeway 3m wide crosses
the ditch and is believed to represent the position of the original entrance
to the moat interior. The approach to this entrance is protected on its south
east side by a well defined inlet channel which links a stream to the south
into the moat ditch. To the west of the entrance a small secondary enclosure
is attached to the south west side of the moat. The lack of the outer bank
along the edge of the moat ditch here suggests that this outer enclosure is a
part of the original earthwork layout. The enclosure extends for approximately
43m to the south and is 32m wide. It is protected around its west and south
west sides by a well defined bank averaging 1.3m high and 3m wide and by a
scarp slope around the east. A stream runs around the base of this scarp to
feed into the moat supply leat.

Extending westwards from the junction of the enclosure bank with the moat
outer bank, is a strong linear bank 1.2m high and 3m wide. It runs for
approximately 36m before ending on slightly rising ground. The ground in the
angle south of this bank and west of the small enclosure bank, is slightly
dished, forming a rough rectangle approximately 36m north to south by 32m
transversely. Although this area is now dry, it is clear that an artificial
fishpond once existed here, probably fed from the stream to the south east. To
the east of the moat, some 15m from the moat edge, is a second well defined
fishpond some 30m north to south by 12m east to west. It lies cut to a depth
of 2.3m into the valley side of a small stream and is linked on its downslope,
north and east, sides by a strong bank 2m high. A supply leat feeds into the
south side of the pond from a spring to the south east and a discharge channel
flows from the midpoint of the north side. The ingress and exit points from
the pond will have been controlled by simple sluice gates allowing control of
the internal water level. A third probable fishpond lies adjacent to the outer
bank of the moat in its north east quarter. It is formed by a bank 0.8m high
around the north west and north, an inner facing scarp around the east and the
outer face of the moat bank around the south.

All boundary features within the scheduled area are excluded from the
scheduling although the ground beneath 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.

Lower Cleeton moated site survives in good condition and is a fine example of
its class. Its circular shape, rather than the more usual rectangular plan,
suggests that it may be one of the earlier examples of a manorial moat in
Shropshire. The interior of the moat platform is undisturbed and will contain
archaeological evidence relating to the manorial buildings which once occupied
it. The moat ditch and associated enclosure will retain valuable
archaeological information relating to the method and period of construction
and to the occupation of the site. The fishpond and water management system in
close association with the moat is also a good example of its class. Such
systems of interlinking ponds often, though not always, included shallow fry
ponds and deeper stew ponds, linked by a series of leats controlled by simple
sluice gates. Water levels were altered in order to facilitate the management
and harvesting of fish which formed an important part of the medieval economy.
The good condition of the earthwork remains at Cleeton provide valuable
information of the close relationship between the pond system and the moat
water supply system. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which
the earthworks were constructed will survive in the fill of the ditch and in
the pond silts. There is some potential for the survival of organic material
in the waterlogged portion of the moat. Such monuments, when considered as
single sites, or as a part of a broader medieval landscape, contribute
valuable information on the settlement pattern, economy and social structure
of the region during the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Eyton, , 'Antiquities of Shropshire' in Antiquities of Shropshire: Volume IV, (), 373-4
Info from VCH historian, Cox, D, Lower Cleeton Moated Site, (1991)

Source: Historic England

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