Ancient Monuments

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A medieval manorial complex comprising a twin moated site, fishpond and associated earthworks 750m west of St Mary's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Shenley Church End, Milton Keynes

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Latitude: 52.0222 / 52°1'20"N

Longitude: -0.8003 / 0°48'1"W

OS Eastings: 482417.174217

OS Northings: 236658.032203

OS Grid: SP824366

Mapcode National: GBR D0F.2JC

Mapcode Global: VHDT6.2FSL

Entry Name: A medieval manorial complex comprising a twin moated site, fishpond and associated earthworks 750m west of St Mary's Church

Scheduled Date: 1 March 1968

Last Amended: 4 November 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011310

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19066

County: Milton Keynes

Civil Parish: Shenley Church End

Built-Up Area: Milton Keynes

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Watling Valley, Milton Keynes

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a medieval manorial complex comprising two rectangular
moated platforms, a fishpond, an outer enclosing perimeter moat and a building
platform, the whole situated in the bottom of a broad shallow sided valley.
The more northerly and smaller moat lies orientated north-west to south-east
and is roughly square in shape with sides of 38m. The moat itself is dry and
well defined with clean steep sides and averages 8m wide and 1.4m deep. The
moat platform is raised slightly above the surrounding natural land surface
and is 17m square with a level and undisturbed interior.
This moat is linked at its south-east corner to a second larger, though less
well defined, moat. This earthwork is orientated NNW to SSE and has overall
dimensions of some 53m west to east by 60m north to south. It remains intact
around the west, north and east sides only, where it averages between 8m and
10m wide and 1.3m deep, the southern arm having been destroyed by the line of
Oakhill Road. The interior platform appears to be at the same level as the
surrounding natural ground surface and has been disturbed in its southern
quarter, possibly during the construction of Oakhill Road.
To the immediate west of the northern moat is a linear fishpond orientated NNW
to SSE and which measures 50m long by 11m wide and averages 1.7m deep.
Currently it is dry but the surface condition of the bottom indicates that it
has held water quite recently. This pond appears to have originally been
linked to the northern moat by a shallow channel which ran from the north-east
end of the fishpond to the north-western corner of the moat. Today this
channel has been recut as a drainage channel incised into the old channel bed;
it continues similarly cut though the north-west and north-east arms of the
moat before running eastwards to discharge into a modern field ditch. To the
west, north and east of these elements is a substantial linear earthwork which
appears to represent the original boundary of the site. This runs south-west
to north-east for some 180m before turning south-east for 90m and then south
for 110m. The south and south-west sides are no longer recognisable having
been destroyed by the construction of Oakhill Road. Where the earthwork
survives it comprises a well defined-ditch averaging 8m wide and 1.1m deep
with a spread inner bank up to 5m wide and 0.2m high. This inner bank is
broken in the north-west and north-east by two original entrance gaps,
respectively 5m and 3m wide. To the north of the former entrance gap the outer
ditch widens into an open area, now rather amorphous but which could represent
a second fishpond. To the west of this feature the outer ditch becomes rather
spread and vestigial but can be followed for some 60m westwards. The inner
bank here is however quite pronounced as a plough spread bank 8m wide and up
to 0.3m high. To the east this perimeter feature is followed by the modern
hedgeline though the inner scarp of the ditch remains intact and up to 1.2m
high running parallel to, and some 12m in, from the hedgeline. Between this
scarp and the southern moat lies the site of a building platform, orientated
roughly north to south and which measures some 18m by 12m. Together these
represent a very complete example of a medieval manorial complex with an
emphasis on water management and fish farming. All modern boundary features
are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them 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.

This complex moated site 750m west of St Mary's Church survives largely
undisturbed and intact and is an excellent example of this class of medieval
earthwork, unusual in that there are two conjoined moats. Archaeological
material from the interior of the site will survive relating to the occupation
of the island while environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which
the monument was constructed will survive in the fills of the moat ditch and
fishpond. The proximity of the site to 'The Toot' a motte and bailey and
manorial complex which lies only some 400m to the south-east, together with
the nearby parish church, allows a detailed understanding of this area in the
medieval period.

Source: Historic England

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