Ancient Monuments

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'The Docks' moated site and dock, Willington

A Scheduled Monument in Willington, Bedford

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Latitude: 52.1392 / 52°8'21"N

Longitude: -0.3749 / 0°22'29"W

OS Eastings: 511309.812988

OS Northings: 250239.226737

OS Grid: TL113502

Mapcode National: GBR H3F.VD1

Mapcode Global: VHFQ9.GH4D

Entry Name: 'The Docks' moated site and dock, Willington

Scheduled Date: 3 July 1933

Last Amended: 25 April 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012079

English Heritage Legacy ID: 11535

County: Bedford

Civil Parish: Willington

Built-Up Area: Willington

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Willington

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes the remains of a double island moated site and
associated dock next to the River Ouse. The moated site comprises inner and
outer moated enclosures. The outer enclosure is `D' shaped with its northern
side formed by a scarp parallel to the river. The waterfilled south-east and
south-west arms of the enclosure survive in good condition measuring some
12m in width. A slight inner bank survives along the south-west corner of
the island. The interior is largely occupied by a disused railway line and
station (the embanked line and station are excluded from the scheduling
although the remains below the railway's low embankment are included).
Attached to its south-west corner are the remains of a rectangular inner
enclosure. Its moated island measures some 90m by 25m and is defined by a
12m wide waterfilled moat on the south and west sides. Its north side is
defined by the outer moated enclosure. A slight inner bank or rampart is
still visible along the south-east arm of the moat. Entrance to the
enclosure is across a causeway on the south side which is opposed to a
similar causeway across the outer enclosure moat. Recent excavations within
the enclosures uncovered the well-preserved remains of buildings dating to
between the 11th and 14th centuries AD.
Adjacent to the east of the moated enclosures are the well-defined remains
of a riverside dock. It was originally one of three interconnected docks at
the site. It survives as a rectangular waterfilled pond, measuring some 50m
by 35m. The dock was originally connected to the River Ouse by a channel
which has since been backfilled. The date of construction of the dock is
The boat house depicted on the Ordinance Survey map is no longer extant.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6000 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 or, in
some cases, which were used for horticulture. 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 in understanding the distribution of wealth and status in the
countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of
organic remains.
This is a rare example of a moat with contemporary medieval docking
facilities. As such it offers an unusual insight into the relationship
between moats and water transport in the Middle Ages. Due to its low-lying
position, the moat shows high potential for the survival of waterlogged

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Calendar of Inquisitions Misc (1348-77), (1937), 392
Goddard, A R, The Victoria History of the County of Willington, (1904), 282-4
Hassall, J, 'Beds Arch Journal' in Excavations at Willington, 1973, , Vol. 10, (1975), 25-40
Earthworks of Beds., Wadmore, B, The Docks, Willington, (1920)
SMR, White, R F, Summary notes in parish survey, (1978)

Source: Historic England

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