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The remains of a medieval moated manor, priory, settlement and associated features, Cogges

A Scheduled Monument in Witney, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.7837 / 51°47'1"N

Longitude: -1.4773 / 1°28'38"W

OS Eastings: 436152.669521

OS Northings: 209575.853582

OS Grid: SP361095

Mapcode National: GBR 6VS.59H

Mapcode Global: VHC02.BFVG

Entry Name: The remains of a medieval moated manor, priory, settlement and associated features, Cogges

Scheduled Date: 5 May 1976

Last Amended: 8 August 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016269

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28177

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Witney

Built-Up Area: Witney

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Cogges

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a series of earthworks and buried remains centred on the
present Manor Farm Museum. These features include the remains of a moated
manor, priory, settlement, water mill, and fishponds. The monument also
includes a World War II pill box. Manor Farm Museum, which is Listed Grade
II*, is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is

The site lies on a gentle slope on the east bank of the River Windrush between
the river valley and the higher ground to the east. It occupies a small spur
of Jurassic oolite which provides a well drained location close to water
supplies and good agricultural alluvium. This site is one of the narrowest
points in the Windrush valley and until the later building of a bridge to the
north, was the best east-west crossing point of the river. The medieval
settlement in this location, which originated in the Saxon period, was largely
superseded in the 13th century by the settlement at Witney on the opposite
side of the river, where the Bishop of Winchester's manor house was located.
In the western part of the monument are the earthwork remains of a medieval
moat, c.6m wide and up to 3m deep. The moat encloses two islands, the
northernmost of which was occupied by a stone-built manor house constructed in
the 12th century. The southern island is believed to have been added to
increase the available space while separating domestic and ancillary
buildings. On the northern island are the remains of a slight internal rampart
bank. The manor house is known to have been a substantial building and its
foundations have been located beneath the present ground surface. It was
superseded in the 13th century by a new manor house, built to the east, now
Manor Farm Museum.

To the north of the moated enclosures are the buried remains of a small alien
priory founded in 1103. Located on the site of the present rector's house and
churchyard, it would have included a substantial stone house to accommodate
the small group of monks and lay brothers who lived there. It was associated
with St Mary's Church, Listed Grade I, which continues in ecclesiastical use
and is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is
included. The grant for the foundation of the alien priory included a large
gift of land spread throughout southern England and much of this was passed to
other Benedictine estates or rented out for a fee. The priory site was later
rebuilt as a vicarage and the site eventually passed to Eton College in 1441
when it was seized from the prior by Henry V.

Adjacent to the east of both the priory site and the moated site are the
remains of the medieval settlement of Cogges. Buried deposits include features
of Saxon date, while slight earthworks south and east of the moated site
indicate the location of building platforms and associated features. In the
13th century this settlement was abandoned in favour of a new site further
east and its remains were partly overlain by the new manor house and
associated buildings.

In the north eastern part of the monument are the earthwork and buried remains
of a rectangular fishpond. It is enclosed by a substantial bank and was formed
by using the line of the Madley Brook which was diverted to the north to form
a bypass leat. The pond probably acted both as a fishpond, symbolising the
high status of the adjacent manor, and as a mill pond providing a head of
water for the mill to the west.

The site of the mill is located in the north western part of the monument in a
bend of the Windrush, and is first mentioned in the Domesday Book along with
the manor. It is no longer visible above ground but remains survive buried
below the present ground level of the meadow. Nearby is a World War II pill
box, one of a pair which can still be found close to the crossing of the
river. They are part of a larger series of local defences which were manned by
Home Guard soldiers to control movement in the event of invasion. It consists
of a cylindrical cast concrete tube laid on one open end and open to the sky.
Its face is broken by a number of small observation/firing ports and would
have been manned by one or more sentries.
The medieval remains at Cogges are well documented. The builders of the first
manor house were the Arsic family who had strong ties with Normandy and are
known to have visited the Abbey of Fecamp in November 1103. It was this family
which granted the priory to the Benedictine abbey and who later moved the
village in an attempt to offset the Bishop of Winchester's control over trade
in the area. The new manor was built during the 13th century by the De Grays.
They appear to have preferred a better drained site made available by the
recent relocation of the settlement. The later change of status towards a
wealthy farm came in the 1680s under the direction of the Pope family and the
site remained in agricultural use until its conversion to a museum this
century. The nine Listed Grade II chest tombs are included in the scheduling.

Excluded from the scheduling are all standing buildings which include St
Mary's Church, Manor Farm Museum, Blake House, The Priory (now a vicarage and
Listed Grade II*), the barn range, the wall 58m ENE of the manor farmhouse,
the shelter shed and dairy, the ox byre, the stables, the wall 5m NNE of the
farmhouse, the dairy, and the courtyard walls attached to the manor farmhouse,
all of which are Listed Grade II. In addition, 28 Church Lane, numbers 1-5 and
17-18 Meadow View, all made-up roads and other solid surfaces, all boundary
walls, fences, and posts are also excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath all of these features and the above mentioned buildings is

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 at Cogges survives well and forms part of an unusually well
preserved sequence of remains which contains valuable evidence for the
development of a manorial settlement through the Saxon, medieval and post-
medieval periods. Archaeological deposits survive well below ground despite
later activity, and as a result of historical research the remains are quite
well understood.

In conjunction with the surviving medieval and post-medieval buildings which
stand on the site and are now in use as a museum, part of the monument serves
as an educational and recreational amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Religious Houses, (1976), 161-2
PRN 4601, C.A.O., Manor House, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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