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Moated site 350m south of Dorrington Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Epping Upland, Essex

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Latitude: 51.7396 / 51°44'22"N

Longitude: 0.1038 / 0°6'13"E

OS Eastings: 545358.741345

OS Northings: 206636.186035

OS Grid: TL453066

Mapcode National: GBR LDW.WLQ

Mapcode Global: VHHMD.RJ8S

Entry Name: Moated site 350m south of Dorrington Farm

Scheduled Date: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016799

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33246

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Epping Upland

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Staple Tye

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes a medieval moated site on Rye Hill Common, 350m south of
Dorrington Farm.

The moated site includes a rectangular island measuring some 80m east-west by
a minimum of 64m north-south, raised approximately 0.5m above the
surrounding ground surface. The island is contained by a moat or ditch
measuring approximately 2m in depth and up to 10m wide on the west, north, and
east sides. The southern arm of the moat and the southern ends of the eastern
and western arms have been infilled and are, together with the southern end
of the island, now incorporated into the ploughed field to the south. An east-
west aligned pond on the island, which measures 20m in length and up to 10m
wide, is considered to be a fishpond. Further depressions and associated
disturbance on the eastern side of the island are thought to have been created
by buildings which were recorded on the 1920 Ordnance Survey map and which
were still visible as foundations when the site was visited in 1973 by the
Moated Sites Research Group.

The site, which is known locally as Foster's Farm, after the farm which
formerly stood on the site, may be associated with a William Forster mentioned
in documents dating from 1466.

All fences and gates 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.

Despite some infilling of the southern arm of the moat and the southern ends
of the eastern and western arms, the moated site 350m south of Dorrington Farm
survives well. The island will retain buried evidence for structures and other
features relating to the period of occupation. The buried silts in the base of
the ditch, and particularly in the infilled sections, will contain artefacts
relating to the period of occupation and environmental evidence for the
appearance of the landscape in which the monument was set.

Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow-moving fresh water
constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish in order
to provide a constant and sustainable food supply. The tradition of
construction and use of fishponds began in the medieval period and reached a
peak of popularity in the 12th century. They were largely the province of the
wealthier sectors of medieval society, and are considered important as a
source of information concerning the economy of various classes of medieval
settlements and institutions. The fishpond on the island survives well and
will provide further evidence for the economy and status of the site.

The monument lies in an area where moated sites are fairly numerous, and is
situated in close proximity to three such sites, the moated site known as
Marshalls in North Weald Bassett, 3.4km to the south east; Wynter's Farm,
Magdalen Laver, 4.7km to the north east; and a moated site at Nazeing, 3.7km
to the west. Comparisons between these sites and further examples from other
regions, will provide valuable insights into the development of settlement and
many other aspects of medieval society in England.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Reaney, PH, Place names of Essex, (1935), 49
Stokes, A H, 'Moated Sites Research Group' in Moated Sites Research Group, (1973)
Title: Ordnance Survey Map
Source Date: 1920
Essex Record Office

Source: Historic England

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