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Moated site, fishponds, and associated building platforms 117m west of Chanstone Mill

A Scheduled Monument in Vowchurch, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.0172 / 52°1'1"N

Longitude: -2.926 / 2°55'33"W

OS Eastings: 336545.315485

OS Northings: 235821.855973

OS Grid: SO365358

Mapcode National: GBR F9.H2TN

Mapcode Global: VH789.7KGH

Entry Name: Moated site, fishponds, and associated building platforms 117m west of Chanstone Mill

Scheduled Date: 19 May 1952

Last Amended: 18 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014111

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27504

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Vowchurch

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Vowchurch

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a moated site, with
associated fishponds and buildings, situated on level ground on the west bank
of the River Dore, near the head of the Golden Valley. The moated site
includes a raised platform of oval form, with a maximum diameter of 44m NNW-
SSE. The platform rises up to 0.6m above a surrounding ditch, which is not
exclusive to the platform but has a distinct outlet to the west which leads
into a fishpond, with another to a second probable fishpond to the south west.
The surface of the platform itself is generally level, but has a series of
raised, roughly rectangular, areas, representing at least three building
platforms. Piles of stones on the surface, and others below-surface indicated
by patches of rough grass, may be related to these structures. The ditch
averages 12m wide, and becomes indistinct to the north where an inlet channel
may have entered from the river. The larger pond opens westwards off the moat
ditch through an inlet c.5m wide. It is roughly square in plan, c.15m aross,
its depth now obscured by dumps of rubble. To the east, south and west the
pond is defined by a bank, c.6m wide whose top is level with that of the
moated platform; to the north it widens into a raised area supporting two
building platforms. The larger, to the west, is c.12m x 6m, aligned south west
to north east; the smaller is more distinct and measures c.8m x 4m. Their
proximity to the pond, probably a stew or storage pond for fish, suggests
these buildings were associated with fish processing, the more distinct being
stone built and the larger of the two perhaps of timber construction. The
monument includes a number of other features which are represented on the
surface by a series of slight earthworks. The county archaeology service
carried out a survey during pipe-laying by the Welsh Water Board in 1984,
which showed these to include the remains of up to five more possible
buildings to the north and west of the pond, all aligned roughly SSW-NNE. A
number of water channels, 5m-10m wide and running roughly north-south, would
have been part of the original water supply of the monument. The most
substantial and easterly of these also forms the western boundary to several
of the building platforms, including the two by the fishpond. In addition, a
second possible pond was revealed, south east of the larger example and again
opening off the moat ditch through a wide channel, with an outlet channel to
the south west. Although only faintly visible as earthworks on the surface,
these latter features will survive well below ground.

The design of these earthworks relies on the water level being higher than at
present - an effect presumably obtained by damming the river. This would also
have filled the ditch of the motte on the opposite bank. The moated site and
the motte are thus both clearly within the curtilage of the same high status
residence, with the complex on the west bank providing the agricultural
appurtenancies of the defended lordly dwelling across the river. The provision
of the moat on the west side of the river consequently indicates the high
status of its owner more than its defensive purpose. By the post-medieval
period both motte and moated complex had gone out of use, as the focus of
occupation shifted to nearby Chanstone Court.

An unsurfaced footpath passes through the centre of these earthworks, WNW from
the roadside gate. An area in the southern corner of the field, where a
pumping well was installed by the Welsh Water Authority in 1983, is excluded
from the scheduling. The motte and its associated features to the east of
the river are the subject of a separate scheduling (SM27497).

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.

The moated site at Chanstone is a well preserved example of this class of
monument. The preservation of structural evidence such as post holes will
clarify the design and function of the buildings and other structures on the
island and those to the north west. Evidence for structures such as bridges
will be preserved in the ditch fills, which, along with deposits in the
associated water ways, will also retain environmental evidence for activities
at and around the site during and after its period of use.

Fishponds were also constructed and used throughout the medieval period,
largely by wealthy sectors of society, the larger and more complex examples
frequently belonging to monastic institutions and royal residences. The
difficulties of obtaining fresh meat in the winter and the value of fish as a
source of protein and a high status food may have favoured their development.
Because of their importance most were located close to villages, manors, or
monasteries, or within parks, so they could be guarded against poaching. The
buildings next to the pond at Chanstone could have been used for equipment
storage or activities related to fish preparation. As with the fills of the
moat ditch, deposits in the ponds will retain environmental evidence related
to activities at the site. Evidence for structures such as sluices will be
preserved in the ditch deposits.

The close association between this monument and the motte across the river
(SM27497) enhances interest in the individual elements of both sites, and
further increases the potential for this high status agricultural holding to
contribute to our understanding of the political and social organisation of
medieval Herefordshire. Visible from the road, the monument is also crossed by
a public footpath from which its varied features can easily be seen.

Source: Historic England


held on SMR, HWCC, Chanstone - Vowchurch. Deserted settlement, (1984)
held on SMR, HWCC, Chanstone - Vowchurch. Deserted settlement, (1984)
Noted on NMR listing, Ordnance Survey, (1971)
Title: Chanstone `Tumps' sketch plan of site
Source Date: 1950
held on SMR, author unknown

Source: Historic England

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