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Santon moated site and associated medieval settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Lynford, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.4531 / 52°27'11"N

Longitude: 0.6871 / 0°41'13"E

OS Eastings: 582684.678868

OS Northings: 287297.262968

OS Grid: TL826872

Mapcode National: GBR QBG.0KH

Mapcode Global: VHJFP.VLLT

Entry Name: Santon moated site and associated medieval settlement

Scheduled Date: 4 June 1970

Last Amended: 5 March 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015256

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21425

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Lynford

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Santon Downham St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich


The monument is situated on a gentle, south facing slope on the north side of
the Little Ouse River, c.145m west of All Saints' Church and Santon House. It
includes a moated site, together with an area to the west and north of the
moat containing earthworks and other remains of an associated manorial complex
which is believed to have formed part of the medieval settlement of Santon.

The moated site is sub-rectangular in plan and has overall dimensions of c.57m
WSW-ENE by c.52m NNE-SSW. The moat ditch, which has become partly infilled
and is now dry, with sloping sides, varies between c.12m and c.14m in width
and ranges in depth from c.1m on the south side, nearest the river, to c.2m on
the north side. It surrounds a central island on which there are buried
remains of a substantial building, the visible indications of which include an
irregular mounded platform up to 1m in height and measuring c.8m by 14m in the
north eastern angle and another smaller mound c.0.5m in height in the north
western angle. Traces of flint rubble masonry are exposed in the sides of
these mounds and on the inner edge of the moat between them. Across the
bottom of the southern arm of the moat, towards the western end, there is a
slight ridge c.6m wide which perhaps marks the site of a bridge.

The river to the south of the moat is embanked to a height of c.0.6m, and
opposite the south eastern angle of the moat there is an indentation in this
bank and a slight hollow in the adjacent ground surface which are thought to
mark the site of an infilled channel connecting the moat to the river,
probably with a sluice to control the flow of water.

An area of earthworks around and to the west of the moated site include
remains of boundary features and other structures, most of which are visible
within an area measuring c.245m east-west by c.125m. This area is bordered on
the east and west sides by low, roughly parallel earthen banks and on the
south side by the river, it includes a strip of land c.50m wide to the north
of the moat, crossed by an east-west track which is believed to be wholly or
partly of post-medieval date. Further evidence for occupation in this area is
provided by surface finds of medieval pottery and other artefacts, and
fragments of building materials such as medieval roof tile and mortar. The
southern end of the eastern boundary bank, which runs along the outer lip of
the eastern arm of the moat, and the southern end of the western bank, which
are included in the scheduling, terminate respectively c.45m and c.20m north
of the river embankment. Abutting the eastern side of the eastern bank at its
northern end, beyond the main distribution of earthworks and surface finds, is
a low rectilinear platform measuring c.32m east-west by c.12m which probably
supported a building, and this feature is also included in the scheduling.
Parallel to the southern parts of the two banks but extending further towards
the river, there are two more slight banks which have the appearance of
boundary features; one, which is flat topped and measures c.10m in width, runs
c.8m to the east of the western bank, and the other, measuring c.8m in width,
is c.29m to the west of the moat. Approximately 11m to the east of the latter,
alongside the western arm of the moat, there is a terraced platform c.18m wide
with a scarp up to 0.7m in height on the western side, probably constructed
with material derived from the excavation of the moat. The area to the north
of the moat is terraced, with a low, south facing scarp at a distance of c.28m
from the northern arm, and at the western end of this scarp, c.24m north east
of the north east angle of the moat, is a sub-rectangular hollow surrounded by
a bank. This has overall dimensions of c.20m east-west by c.15m and is
considered to mark the remains of a building. From the south west corner of
this feature a narrow bank, c.37m in length and rising to a height of c.1m at
the western end, runs WNW towards a group of roughly rectilinear mounds which
perhaps mark the sites of other buildings.

The track which crosses the site north of the moat, leading to Santon House
and the adjacent church of All Saints' c.145m to the east, is not shown on
18th century maps of the area and probably postdates the construction of the
Thetford-Ely railway which runs to the north of it and blocks access from an
older road beyond.

In the 13th century the manor of Stanton was held by Peter de Barew from Earl
Warenne, later passing to the de Stantons and, at the end of the century, to
Roger de Bodney. In the mid 14th century John de Bodney gave it in trust to be
settled on the Prior and Convent of St Mary's, Thetford, and following the
dissolution of the priory in 1540, it was granted with the priory to Thomas
Howard, Duke of Norfolk. Householders in Santon numbered ten in 1428, but by
the early 16th century the village was depopulated and Thomas Bancroft, then
lord of the manor, who built All Saints' Church (consecrated in 1628) is said
to have been the sole parishioner. A survey of the parish dated 1752 shows a
building still standing on or near the moated site at that time, in addition
to the present Santon House. More extensive earthwork remains of the village
are said to have been visible at the time the railway was constructed in 1846.

The surface of the track crossing the monument and all other made surfaces of
paths are excluded from the scheduling, together with service poles alongside
the track, short wooden posts (dragon's teeth) alongside the track and around
picnic areas, modern fences, an information board to the north west of the
moated site, picnic tables and benches, and play apparatus, although the
ground beneath all these features 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.

Santon moated site survives well, undisturbed by later cultivation or modern
occupation and with a variety of features which include the remains of a
masonry building or buildings. Archaeological deposits on the central island
and in the ditch silts will contain evidence for the construction, occupation
and use of the site during the medieval and early post-medieval periods, and
the remains of part of the medieval settlement of Santon which survive in
association with the moated site provide a context in which it can be better
understood, complementing and augmenting the history of the manor as outlined
in documentary sources. The monument as a whole will retain information
concerning the character of the settlement prior to its depopulation, and is
of particular interest for the study of settlement patterns and the medieval
rural economy of the Breckland region of East Anglia.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Guide to the Norfolk Railway, (1846)
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, (1805), 155-159
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, (1805), 155-159
Cushion, B, St Helen's Picnic Site, Santon: Archaeological Assessment, (1995)
Skinner, T, Survey of the Parish of Santon, (1752)
Alison, K J, 'Norfolk Archaeology' in The Lost Villages of Norfolk, , Vol. 31, (1957), 156
Breckland: Lynford 5688,
Ref. NRS 21391/37X, Skinner, T, Survey of the Parish of Santon, (1752)
Sussams, K, Watching Brief - St Helen's Picnic Site, Lynford, 1995,

Source: Historic England

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