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Moated site in Chalkdell Wood, 100m north west of Frith Hill House

A Scheduled Monument in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.7032 / 51°42'11"N

Longitude: -0.6987 / 0°41'55"W

OS Eastings: 490019.481111

OS Northings: 201291.373531

OS Grid: SP900012

Mapcode National: GBR D4F.45C

Mapcode Global: VHDVS.TGZ6

Entry Name: Moated site in Chalkdell Wood, 100m north west of Frith Hill House

Scheduled Date: 25 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014600

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27151

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Great Missenden

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Great Missenden with Ballinger and Little Hampden

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a small moated site and an adjacent section of hollow
way situated in a small area of woodland on the north eastern side of
Misbourne valley overlooking the town of Great Missenden.
The moated enclosure is D-shaped and measures approximately 58m north to south
by 28m east to west, the western side raised to provide a level platform
projecting from the hillside, presumably using upcast from the ditch which
surrounds the northern and western sides. The surface of the enclosure is
marked by numerous minor undulations indicating the buried remains of
buildings and other features, the most pronounced being a small sub-square
building platform, c.20m in width and 0.9m high, which occupies the north
eastern corner. This platform merges with an internal bank, traces of which
can be seen around the northern and western side of the enclosure. These
traces appeared more distinct when mapped by the Ordnance Survey in the early
part of this century.
The ditch averages 6m in width with a flat base and steep sides. The scarps
leading down from the platform into the ditch vary between 2m and 3m in depth;
whereas the outer lip of the ditch is approximately 1m lower in the north
part of the site (owing to the natural gradient), and disappears entirely on
the southern side of the platform, where only the inner scarp is retained. The
fourth side of the enclosure is marked by an unmetalled access track to Hill
House on the eastern side of Chalkdell Wood. To the east of the track the
ground rises steadily towards the summit of Frith Hill, broken only by the
terraced incline of the road to South Heath.
The southern side of the moated site is flanked by a hollow way which makes an
abrupt turn near the south western corner of the enclosure before descending
through the wood towards the (B485) Frith Hill Road. A narrow bank with a
pronounced outer scarp extends between the corner of the enclosure and the
hollow way forming a small triangular platform, indicating that the two
features were contemporary in use. The hollow way is thought to have
originated as a route linking the moated site with the parish Church of St
Peter and St Paul, which stands at the foot of the hill some 250m to the
south. The hollow way is well preserved within Chalkdell Wood, measuring
between 6m and 8m in width and between 1m and 2m in depth. However, to the
south of the road, the route approaching the church has been overlain by the
expansion of the graveyard, and only a small section of eroded trackway
survives. This section is not included in the scheduling.
The association between the settlement and the church (which has late 12th
century origins) is supported by the discovery of medieval pottery in
disturbed areas of the enclosure bank in 1991.

All fences and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling although the ground
beneath these items 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.

The moated site in Chalkdell Wood is an unusual variant of this class of
medieval settlement, few of which survive in such a well preserved condition.
The earthworks provide a clear impression of the way in which the monument was
constructed to exploit the commanding position overlooking the Misbourne
valley and the medieval town clustered around Missenden Abbey. The buried
remains of structures and other features will survive within the enclosure.
These together with artefactual evidence from both the platform and the
surrounding ditch, will provide valuable information concerning the character
of the site, the date of its construction and the duration of occupation.
The monument lies in an area where moated sites are relatively common,
enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. The unusual
hillside location of the Chalkdell Wood site and the degree of fortification
which it implies is of particular interest in this respect. The defensive
nature of the site is belied by the lack of a significant fourth arm to the
moat and the fact that the site is overlooked by higher ground. The prominent
location may, however, have been chosen to reflect the status of the owner,
further signified by the association between the site and the parish church.
The site is accessible to the public.

Source: Historic England


AP held by Bucks Museums Service, Farley, M E, BCM A16/1/14 (SP90/01), (1992)
Site notes (Bucks SMR 2072), Farley, M E, MEF Field Visit 10/1/91, (1991)
Site visit report (Bucks SMR 2072), Farley, M E, MEF Field Visit 10/1/91, (1991)
Title: Ordnance Survey 25" Map
Source Date: 1920

Source: Historic England

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