Ancient Monuments

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Medieval moated site and 18th century dovecote, 600m east of Outchester

A Scheduled Monument in Easington, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5946 / 55°35'40"N

Longitude: -1.7682 / 1°46'5"W

OS Eastings: 414707.563557

OS Northings: 633459.863754

OS Grid: NU147334

Mapcode National: GBR J32R.ZB

Mapcode Global: WHC0K.TN60

Entry Name: Medieval moated site and 18th century dovecote, 600m east of Outchester

Scheduled Date: 8 March 1955

Last Amended: 1 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014570

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24626

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Easington

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Bamburgh St Aidan

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a medieval moated site and an 18th century dovecote
on a slight plateau overlooking the deep valley of the Waren Burn.
The moated site is irregular in shape. It was enclosed by a broad ditch the
course of which can be traced on the ground as a marked change in slope
running east-west along the south edge of the monument for c.90m. The ditch on
the south and east sides of the monument is also clearly visible on aerial
photographs taken in 1989. A small excavation conducted in 1961 to discover
whether the earthwork was the site of the missing village of Outchester was
inconclusive but confirmed a medieval date. The Northumberland County History
documents a farm on the north and east sides of the monument which was
demolished c.1855 and which probably accounts for the mass of post-medieval
pottery, glass and tiles in the ploughsoil.
Within the moated site is a ruined 18th century dovecote. It comprises a
tapering tower standing four storeys high with a conical roof. There is a
blocked doorway at ground level. The dovecote is a Grade II listed Building
and is included in the scheduling.
The fence line of the plantation on the east side of the monument is
excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is included.

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.

Dovecotes were constructed for the breeding and management of doves in order
to provide a constant and sustainable supply of meat, eggs and manure. As
such, the possession of a dovecote was a very valuable asset. They were
normally owned by the medieval and post-medieval landowning aristocracy, both
lay and secular. The majority of dovecotes fell out of use during the late
18th century when a constant supply of other meat became available throughout
the winter period. They provide a valuable insight into medieval economy and a
significant number of well preserved examples will be identified as
nationally important.
Despite ploughing, the moated site east of Outchester can be identified on
the ground. Its ditch is clearly visible on aerial photographs on the south
and east sides of the monument and survives on the ground as a marked change
of slope on the south side. It will retain significant archaeological remains.
The absence of medieval pottery in the ploughsoil, compared with the abundance
of post-medieval sherds, suggests medieval deposits will also be preserved
within the moated site. The presence of the post-medieval dovecote is an
indication of the continuity of use of the site. Moated sites are uncommon in
Northumberland and this one will contribute to any study of the wider rural
settlement pattern at this time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bateson, E, 'Bamburgh' in A History of Northumberland, (1893), 199
Bateson, E, 'Bamburgh' in A History of Northumberland, (1893), 199
Harbottle, B, McCord, N, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in An excavation at Outchester, Northumberland, , Vol. 4 ser 43, (1965), 235-242
Easington parish, Department of the Environment, List of Buildings of Special Architectural/Historical Interest, (1987)
Gates, T, NU 1433 C-G 5558/24-29, (1989)
McCord, N, NU 1433 A-B G026015/33-34, (1962)

Source: Historic England

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