Ancient Monuments

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Birchfield Farm moated site and associated fishponds and leats

A Scheduled Monument in Great Barford, Bedford

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Latitude: 52.1734 / 52°10'24"N

Longitude: -0.3621 / 0°21'43"W

OS Eastings: 512103.706375

OS Northings: 254061.140911

OS Grid: TL121540

Mapcode National: GBR H31.R8D

Mapcode Global: VHFQ3.NMYQ

Entry Name: Birchfield Farm moated site and associated fishponds and leats

Scheduled Date: 13 December 1978

Last Amended: 8 March 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010864

English Heritage Legacy ID: 11532

County: Bedford

Civil Parish: Great Barford

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Great Barford

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes the remains of a Medieval moated enclosure and its
associated ponds and leats. The moated enclosure is rectangular in shape
with maximum dimensions of 100m by 85m inclusive of the 14m wide
surrounding moat. A small stream connects with the north-west angle of
the moat via a short inflow channel. Upstanding remains within the
moated enclosure include a low internal bank around the edge of the
island, a water-filled pond in the south-west corner and a rectangular
platform on the south side of the island. The platform is interpreted as
the site of the original 12th century manorial building. Immediately to
the east of the moat are the remains of two ponds and their associated
supply and outflow channels. The ponds are believed to have been
constructed as fishponds to supply the manor with a convenient source of
food. A series of slight cultivation earthworks not included in the
scheduling can be seen in the field to the west.

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.

Birchfield Farm moated enclosure survives in fine condition and displays
a diversity of features. The significance of the site is enhanced by the
presence of well-preserved leats and ponds indicating carefully
controlled water management strategies linked with the function of the

Source: Historic England


Annotated map NAR records, (BHRS), (1964)
BHS survey, (1971)
NAR Record (1971), (1971)
Newnan Priory cartulery, (VCH III), (1912)

Source: Historic England

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