Ancient Monuments

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Saffron moat at Higham Ferrers

A Scheduled Monument in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.308 / 52°18'28"N

Longitude: -0.5958 / 0°35'45"W

OS Eastings: 495830.022022

OS Northings: 268693.94425

OS Grid: SP958686

Mapcode National: GBR DYK.65Y

Mapcode Global: VHFPD.M8C0

Entry Name: Saffron moat at Higham Ferrers

Scheduled Date: 13 September 1954

Last Amended: 8 June 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010663

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13645

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Higham Ferrers

Built-Up Area: Higham Ferrers

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Higham Ferrers St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The Saffron Moat at Higham Ferrers lies 150m to the west of Chichele College.
It is located on flat land in the western part of the town and originally
water was supplied to the moat by a spring.
The rectangular moated site covers an area measuring approximately 35m x 44m,
and is surrounded by a ditch up to 2m deep and 4m wide. A raised bank on the
outside of the eastern arm suggests that this may have been the location of a
bridge for access to the moat island. The moat island is small, measuring
about 12m x 8m, and the centre is sunken. The lower central area is about
1.5m deep and is surrounded by a bank up to 1.0m high, suggesting that the
site may have been used as a fishpond, rather than primarily as a domestic
moated site. There are remains of a slight bank on the outside of the south
arm which would have assisted in retaining water in the moat ditches.
The moat derived its name from the fields in which it lay, once called Saffron
Close. The site is considered to be associated with the nearby Chichele
College, which was founded as a College of secular canons in the 15th century
by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury. The canons derived income by
growing the crocuses from which saffron, a useful dye, is obtained.

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 waterfilled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which usually stood domestic or religious buildings.
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, and they exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms
and sizes.
The Saffron Moat at Higham Ferrers is an unusual example of a small later
medieval moated site with an internal fishpond and used for horticulture
rather than for domestic purposes. It lay within the land used by the canons
of Chichele College for growing crocuses for manufacturing saffron. The moat
lies close to the College and thus forms an important association with the
15th century ecclesiastical establishment.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , Archaeological Sites in North East Northamptonshire , (1975), 56

Source: Historic England

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