Ancient Monuments

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Moated site immediately south east of Blake Mere

A Scheduled Monument in Whitchurch Urban, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.9776 / 52°58'39"N

Longitude: -2.657 / 2°39'25"W

OS Eastings: 355980.759149

OS Northings: 342455.853089

OS Grid: SJ559424

Mapcode National: GBR 7M.JH3M

Mapcode Global: WH9BN.5F03

Entry Name: Moated site immediately south east of Blake Mere

Scheduled Date: 11 February 1958

Last Amended: 27 September 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017013

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32313

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Whitchurch Urban

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Whitchurch St Alkmund

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval moated
site situated in a prominent position overlooking a natural pool known as
Blake Mere, and with extensive views of the countryside to the south east.

Documentary sources indicate that a manor house belonging to the Le Strange
family existed here in the 12th century. It passed to the Talbots in the 14th
century, and in 1383 was the birthplace of John Talbot, the first Earl of
Shrewsbury. The Talbot family sold the manor in 1590 and by the end of the
following century the house was in ruins.

The moated site was constructed on ground which rises from south to north,
alongside the former edge of Blake Mere. This natural pool is likely to have
served as a fishpond, although it is not included in the scheduling. Three of
the four moat arms that define the island survive as visible earthworks and
are now dry. The south western arm has been infilled but survives as a buried
feature. The north western and south eastern arms are about 14m wide, the
north eastern arm is about 20m wide and the width of the south western arm was
probably similar to the arm on the opposite side. Material excavated from the
moat has been used to raise the surface of the island up to 2m above the level
of the surrounding land. The island measures approximately 56m north west -
south east. Quarrying for soil in modern times has modified the original south
western side of the island and has resulted in the formation of an irregular
scarp along this side. From the adjacent moat arms it would appear that the
island originally measured about 60m south west - north east.

A series of slit trenches each about a metre wide run across the western and
northern parts of the island. These trenches, and other associated hollows and
mounds, are the remnants of modern small-scale excavations. In 1963 a trench
was dug across the south eastern moat arm. During this investigation artefacts
dating between the 12th and 16th centuries were discovered, together with the
remains of two 16th century retaining walls.

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.

Although parts of the moated site immediately south east of Blake Mere have
been modified and disturbed in modern times it remains a good example of this
class of monument.

The moated island will retain structural and artefactual evidence of the
buildings that once stood on the site, which together with the artefacts and
organic remains existing in the moat will provide valuable evidence about the
occupation and social status of the inhabitants. Organic remains surviving in
the buried ground surface under the raised interior and in the moat will also
provide information and the changes to the local environment and use of the
land before and after the moated site was constructed. The archaeological
excavation has helped to demonstate the nature of the structural sequences
existing here, and has provided information about the length of occupation and
the degree to which buried remains survive. The importance of the site is
further enhanced by documentary sources which provide ownership information.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Watson, M, Musson, C, Shropshire from the Air. Man and the Landscape, (1993), 68
Griffiths, R W, 'Shropshire Newsletter' in Excavations at Blakemere Castle, Whitchurch, , Vol. 24, (1963), 2

Source: Historic England

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