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Sinai Park moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Branston, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 52.8049 / 52°48'17"N

Longitude: -1.6719 / 1°40'18"W

OS Eastings: 422213.718755

OS Northings: 323090.943049

OS Grid: SK222230

Mapcode National: GBR 5DT.442

Mapcode Global: WHCG5.9R3K

Entry Name: Sinai Park moated site

Scheduled Date: 18 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011068

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21535

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Branston

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Burton St Aidan and St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


Sinai Park moated site is situated in an isolated context, on a ridge of high
ground overlooking Burton upon Trent. The monument includes the island and its
associated moat ditch. The moated island is partly occupied by a timber-framed
house which is a Grade II* Listed Building.
The moated island has a sub-rectangular plan and measures approximately 50m
NW-SE and 60m NE-SW. The present house on the moated island originally dates
to the early 16th century; beneath the north wing, however, are the remains of
an earlier stone structure. Access onto the island is currently by a
brick-built bridge situated across the south-eastern arm of the moat and two
modern causeways across the south-western and north-eastern moat ditches. The
bridge is dated 1732 and is not included in the scheduling. The original
access onto the moated island is thought to have been by a timber bridge.
An excavation in 1988 located an oak foundation beam for a bridge in the
central section of the north-western arm of the moat. The moat ditches measure
up to 10m wide and are partially silted. The southern and northern corners of
the moat remain water-filled. The north-western and south-western arms of the
moat are approximately 2.5m deep, while the south-eastern and north-eastern
arms measure up to 1.5m deep. The original inside edge of the north-western
arm of the moat was not located during excavations in 1988, but is considered
to lie close to the north wall of the north wing of the house.
The house on the moated island and the moat ditches are undergoing
restoration. In November 1988 the moat was mechanically re-excavated and seven
2m wide sections were laid out across the moat and archaeologically recorded.
This work provided evidence for the date and character of occupation at the
site. The earliest dating evidence was from the 16th century but it is
considered that the moat was systematically cleaned out during earlier
occupation of the site, leaving little evidence from earlier periods.
The site at Sinai Park was the summer retreat of the abbots of Burton Abbey.
By c.1320 there was 'a place surrounded by a ditch' in Shobnall Park, later
called Sinai Park, which was used as a retreat for the monks undergoing
blood-letting. It was still used for this purpose during the 1380s and the
site remained in the abbey's possession until the 16th century.
The 16th century house, which includes mid-17th, early 19th and late 20th
century alterations, is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is
included. The fence posts, which currently follow the edge of the island, the
breeze-block structure and the brick outbuilding, both situated in the
northern part of the monument, the brick bridge across the south-eastern arm
of the moat, the concrete surface of the farmyard at the southern corner of
the monument and the cattle grid are also excluded from the scheduling, but
the ground beneath all these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 4 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.

Sinai Park is in origin a very rare class of moated site; only a handful of
similar monastic retreats or 'Seyney Houses' have been identified nationally.
The central island retains buildings which date from this period of use and
are probably unique survivals and the island also retains similarly rare
deposits and features which relate to the site's unusual function. The site's
importance is also enhanced by the survival of documentation relating to its
unusual use in the monastic period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Greenslade, M W, Hannam, U C, The Victoria History of the County of Stafforshire: Burton Upon Trent, (1970), 204
Neal, M, Report of a Watching Brief at Sinai Park, (1988), 1
Neal, M A, A Medieval Moated Site at Sinai Park, Burton Upon Trent, (1988), 28

Source: Historic England

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