Ancient Monuments

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Church Farm moated site and associated settlement and cultivation earthworks

A Scheduled Monument in Hockliffe, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9317 / 51°55'54"N

Longitude: -0.5963 / 0°35'46"W

OS Eastings: 496607.974342

OS Northings: 226838.266881

OS Grid: SP966268

Mapcode National: GBR F30.S31

Mapcode Global: VHFR4.MQ31

Entry Name: Church Farm moated site and associated settlement and cultivation earthworks

Scheduled Date: 3 August 1973

Last Amended: 7 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012915

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24414

County: Central Bedfordshire

Civil Parish: Hockliffe

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Hockliffe

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The moated site at Church Farm is located in a prominent position on a south
facing slope overlooking the valley of the Clipstone Brook, a tributary of the
River Ouzel. It lies approximately 100m to the south of the parish Church of
St Nicholas, which is detached from the modern village of Hockliffe, on
Watling Street some 500m to the south east. The monument consists of a small
sub-rectangular moated enclosure set within a square platform which projects
from the natural slope of the hillside. The platform is adjacent, on the north
west, west, and south, to a series of further building platforms and closes
which provide evidence of an associated settlement.
The moated enclosure comprises an artificial mound which stands some 2.5m
above the surrounding ditch. The surface of the mound measures approximately
30m north east to south west by 28m north west to south east. It is relatively
flat, although it retains some minor earthworks which indicate buried
foundations, and there are traces of a slight bank, 0.2m high and 1.5m wide,
surviving around the perimeter. The surrounding ditch, which is visible around
all but the northern side of the mound, is seasonally wet and shows signs of
silting. It reaches a maximum width of 4m to the south of the island, and is
defined by an outer bank, 0.4m to 0.8m high, which measures between 1.5m and
2.5m across. The moated site is contained within a square outer enclosure, 80m
in width, which provides a level platform to the south, east, and west of the
ditch. This is thought to have contained outbuildings and other features
associated with the occupation of the central mound. It is defined by 1.5m
high outward facing scarps to the south east and south west, whereas the north
east facing scarp is more severe, descending for approximately 2m towards the
lane which flanks the eastern side of the site.
A hollow way approaches the moated site from the south west and continues to
the edge of the bank surrounding the moat, forming a 6m wide, 0.4m deep
channel across the outer enclosure. A second entrance way is indicated by a
narrow depression extending across the platform to the south. The south
eastern side of the outer enclosure is flanked by a 7m wide terrace extending
from the base of the scarp, which may have served either as a garden or as the
location of further structures. The southern edge of this terrace is marked by
a parallel scarp which descends for about 0.8m to form the northern edge of a
small rectangular enclosure. This lower platform, which measures 35m north
east to south west and 40m north west to south east, contains a number of low
earthworks which indicate the presence of buried structural remains. A shallow
slope forms the eastern edge of the platform, the remaining sides of which are
defined by a later boundary ditch. Access between this area and the main
enclosure to the north was provided by a short 6m wide causeway which passes
through a break in the outer scarp of the intervening terrace.
Further raised areas are visible to the north of the moated site, within the
paddock to the west of Church Farm. A large, level terrace, measuring
approximately 50m by 10m lies adjacent to the eastern boundary of the paddock,
defined by shallow scarps on the southern and western sides. This feature is
flanked by smaller platforms to the west which are particularly evident near
the southern boundary of the churchyard. These earthworks mark the location of
further buildings, considered to be the surviving remains of a village or
settlement associated with both the moated site and the church.
The hillside to the south west of the building platforms and the moated site
retains evidence of former cultivation earthworks (ridge and furrow) related
to the occupation of the settlement. These earthworks are contained within a
series of rectangular closes. The continuation of the hollow way which extends
from the south west side of the moat forms one such division. A second hollow
way, 4m-5m wide and 0.4m deep leads towards the eastern corner of the outer
enclosure and marks a parallel boundary some 40m to the north west. Subsequent
boundaries dividing the area to the north west are represented by two
similarly orientated, shallow ditches; the southernmost of which extends
between the house plots further up the slope.
A section excavated in 1909 across the ditch surrounding the central island
produced pottery and a number of metal objects dated to the medieval period.
The moated site can be identified as a messuage (dwelling) within the estate
of Hockliffe Manor in records which date from the 13th century.
All fences and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath is included in order to protect buried remains.

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.

The monument at Church End includes a well preserved example of a medieval
moated site, the significance of which is emphasised by its commanding
position situated on a platform overlooking a valley to the west of Watling
Street. The size of the central island is also significant as it suggests an
element of fortification which is not usually associated with this form of
monument. The island and the outer enclosure will retain the buried remains of
structures and other features relating to the occupation of the site, whereas
the ground beneath may retain evidence of earlier occupation and land use. The
silts within the ditches maintain conditions suitable for the preservation of
both artefactual and environmental evidence which will provide evidence for
the character of occupation on the site and for the landscape in which it was
The importance of the monument is enhanced by the direct association between
the moated site and a range of well preserved earthworks which comprise the
remains of part of a contemporary settlement and a sample of its associated
agricultural system. The relationship between the moated site and the adjacent
settlement earthworks provides important evidence for the study of the social
and economic development of the overall site, illustrating contrasts in
lifestyle amongst its various inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Soskin, , Hockliffe and the Gilpin Family, (1972)
'Bedfordshire Times' in Bedfordshire Times and Independent, (1909), 2
'Hockliffe' in Bedfordshire Parish Survey, (1982)
'Kelly's Directory' in Kelly's Directory, (1940)
HH 34-7 CUCAP, (1952)
St.Joseph, J K S, AMW 28-9, 32, (1966)

Source: Historic England

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