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Moated site known as `The Hoult' and associated field system

A Scheduled Monument in Potsgrove, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9703 / 51°58'13"N

Longitude: -0.6362 / 0°38'10"W

OS Eastings: 493787.006159

OS Northings: 231086.213072

OS Grid: SP937310

Mapcode National: GBR F2K.FYV

Mapcode Global: VHFQX.XQKX

Entry Name: Moated site known as `The Hoult' and associated field system

Scheduled Date: 19 June 1974

Last Amended: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015584

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29893

County: Central Bedfordshire

Civil Parish: Potsgrove

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Battlesden with Pottesgrove

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


`The Hoult' moated site stands near the top of a broad south facing slope on
the Greensand Ridge, some 2km to the south of the village of Woburn and 1km to
the north east of Watling Street (the modern A5). The monument includes the
remains of the moated site itself, formerly known as the manor of `Lovells' or
`Lovellsbury' (after the family of that name who held it in the 13th century),
and an extensive pattern of field boundaries and cultivation earthworks which
surround it.
The moated site has two islands, a large square enclosure measuring
approximately 90m across and an inner enclosure, 35m square, occupying the
southern corner of the larger island and sharing the outer ditches on two
sides. The ditches surrounding both islands average 10m in width and 2.5m
deep, apart from the western arm of the inner island which has been largely
infilled. The elevated position of the moated site suggests that the ditches
would only have collected water on a seasonal basis. Although now dry, the
complete circuit was shown as water-filled on an estate map of 1633 and,
according to the tithe map of 1845, the eastern arm may have still held water
in the mid-19th century. Since the south east corner of the outer moat is 4m
lower than the the north west corner, a series of sluices would have been
required to fully enclose the islands with water.
Stone and brick foundations can be seen on the western side of the small
island, perhaps relating to a building termed `The Hoult', shown here on the
1633 map which was prepared for the sale of the estate to the Earl of
Bedford. Other structures and yard areas are indicated by low undulations
within the platform, and a small circular depression suggests the presence of
a backfilled well. Further earthworks on the larger island point to the
prolonged and extensive use of this enclosure, which included a group of four
buildings depicted on the 1845 tithe map. A level platform immediately to the
north of the inner moat and bounded by a terrace on the west side is thought
to have served as a garden. Short sections of banks survive along the outer
edge of the southern ditch and along the inside of the northern arm. The
original entrance lies in the middle of the eastern side, formed by a causeway
between the north east corner of the inner moat and the terminal of the outer
ditch. A second causeway, probably a later addition, spans the centre of the
southern outer ditch.
The moated site is situated within an extensive and well preserved area of
cultivation earthworks (ridge and furrow) which survive in the surrounding
pasture and cover approximately 50ha. The earthworks form a patchwork pattern
based on furlongs (groups of parallel ridges, or lands) which are orientated
at right angles to each other on broadly similar alignments to the sides of
the moated site. This field pattern, which retains evidence for the headlands
and hollow ways which separated the furlongs, is evidently contemporary with
the construction and occupation of the moated site. There are, however, traces
of a still earlier system (orientated north east to south west) which was
clearly disrupted by the construction of the outer moat.
The principal divisions between the furlongs are recorded on the 1633 estate
map, although the names applied to these `closes' (such as `The three new
little meades' and `the old penn') indicate that the former cultivation
pattern had, by this time, been converted to pasture. It is this change which
is thought to have enabled the survival of the earlier earthworks. The 17th
century banks and ditches which divided the pasture closes (whilst retaining
the divisions in the earlier field system) also remain visible as low
All fence lines and posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath them 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 Hoult' is a well preserved example of the double-island class of moated
site. Both islands clearly retain buried evidence of buildings and other
features related to the period of occupation which, from the documentary
evidence related to the site, is known to have been of considerable duration.
Further archaeological evidence will be retained in the fills of the ditches
which, in addition to containing artefacts reflecting this period of use, will
also contain evidence for the means of water management.
The extensive pattern of medieval cultivation earthworks and later,
post-medieval close boundaries surrounding the moated site is particularly
important, forming an extremely rare combination of evidence for both the
settlement and the evolution of the dependent agricultural system. The local
region, as defined by a recent study of the medieval settlement pattern, has a
notable density of moated sites. However, no other site within this region
(which includes large areas of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire
and Oxfordshire) has retained such a complete pattern of earthworks
reflecting the operation and development of its economy and for which such
detailed documentary evidence is available.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Goddard, A R, The Victoria History of the County of Bedfordshire, (1904), 422
Field system plotted from APs (SMR), Simco, A, Moat in Potsgrove Parish, (1981)
Map of Lovells Manor and closes, Lily, H, CRO R1/62, (1633)
Map of Lovells Manor, Lily, H, COR R1/62, (1633)
OS Antiquity Model, N K B, Lovellsbury Moat, (1972)
reference to unpubliched survey data, Coleman S & Baker D, Conversations with County Archaeologist and SMR Officer, (1993)
Tithe Map, COR MAT 36, (1845)

Source: Historic England

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