Ancient Monuments

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Moated site, Moat Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Pitstone, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.8273 / 51°49'38"N

Longitude: -0.6319 / 0°37'54"W

OS Eastings: 494377.109048

OS Northings: 215183.015453

OS Grid: SP943151

Mapcode National: GBR F49.H14

Mapcode Global: VHFRQ.0B8J

Entry Name: Moated site, Moat Farm

Scheduled Date: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016701

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32121

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Pitstone

Built-Up Area: Pitstone

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Ivinghoe with Pitstone

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a medieval moated site at Moat Farm at the south east
end of the village of Pitstone, and less than 1km to the west of the Chiltern

The moated site includes a `D'-shaped island measuring a maximum of 142m north
east-south west and up to 54m north west-south east. The island is contained
by a seasonally wet moat which measures up to 20m wide, and between 2.5m and
4m in depth. An outer bank, 90m long, 12m wide and up to 2m in height, is
visible on the south east side of the moat. The north eastern arm of the moat
may represent the adaptation of a natural feature, since it joins with a steep
natural channel which continues for a further 230m in a south easterly
direction towards a spring. This watercourse, which is marked on the 1840
tithe map as Cowhill Spring, is not constant, and consequently the amount of
water in the moat varies according to the time of year. A small sample of the
spring gulley at its junction with the moat is included in the scheduling to
preserve the archaeological relationship between the two features.

Access to the island is over a brick bridge, believed to be 19th century in
date, which crosses the south western arm of the moat. The remains of a brick
sluice, thought to be contemporary with the bridge, also extends across the
south western arm of the moat. This feature no longer controls the release of
water from the moat, and the outflow channel which continues west and
north west to Pitstone Green is now largely infilled.

The moat is thought to mark the original site of Pitstone Manor which in 1086
was owned by Walter Giffard and held by Ralf de Langetot, and which by the
15th century was the capital messuage of the fee once called `Besevilles'. The
house is Listed Grade II and is all that remains of Pitstone Manor, later
known as Pitstone Place, the greater part of which was demolished in the 19th
century. An 1810 pre-enclosure map identifies the area around the moat as `The

Moat Farm house, the brick bridge, the tarmac carpark, the outhouses, the
garage, the septic tanks, the lamp post and the garden furniture, together
with the fences around the outside edge of the moat ditch, are all excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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.

The moated site at Moat Farm survives well. Despite the construction of the
carpark and the septic tank, the island remains largely undisturbed and will
retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to the
earlier periods of occupation. The buried silts in the base of the ditches
will contain both artefacts and environmental evidence relating to the period
of occupation.

The monument, whose curved northern perimeter may reflect the adaptation of a
natural feature, represents a variation on the more common square or
rectangular moated sites which are relatively numerous in the area.
Comparisons between these sites will provide valuable insights into the nature
of settlement and society in the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1969), 406
Sheahan, J, History and Topography of Buckinghamshire, (1862), 725
Bull, E J, 'Records of Bucks' in A Medieval Settlement Area Adjacent to Pitstone Church, , Vol. 20, (1978), 654
Copy in SMR CAS file 2746, Dungworth, D, Pitstone: An Archaeological Parish Survey, (1991)
Copy in SMR CAS file 2746, Dungworth, D, Pitstone: An Archaeological Parish Survey, (1991)
Pitstone SP 91 NW 4/149,
Title: Pre-Enclosure Map
Source Date: 1810
BRO MA/166/2R

Source: Historic England

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