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Site of the medieval village of Moreton

A Scheduled Monument in Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.7812 / 51°46'52"N

Longitude: -0.856 / 0°51'21"W

OS Eastings: 479018.069733

OS Northings: 209792.36585

OS Grid: SP790097

Mapcode National: GBR C1Y.6FN

Mapcode Global: VHDVB.3HVC

Entry Name: Site of the medieval village of Moreton

Scheduled Date: 29 June 1973

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017454

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29400

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Stone with Dinton and Hartwell

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes the buried and visible remains of the medieval village
of Moreton, together with a medieval moated site and a later manorial
enclosure, located toward the southern edge of the settlement area.
The former village of Moreton lies in the Aylesbury Vale, isolated within an
expanse of farmland between the present villages of Ford and Bishopstone. The
village earthworks cover an area of approximately 6ha on a gentle slope which
descends to the north of Moreton Farm. The central feature of the village
is a broad hollow way, orientated north east to south west, and leading
towards a ford across the brook at the foot of the slope. The east side of the
hollow way is flanked by two large ditched enclosures, each covering
approximately 1ha, which are believed to have served as paddocks. Both contain
slightly raised platforms at the southern ends which indicate the locations of
buildings: either dwellings or byres. Further south, towards the moated site,
the hollow way passes through an area which was termed `The Green' on an
estate map dated 1660. This area contains numerous slight undulations
reflecting past use, as well as an oval platform thought to represent the site
of a post mill.
To the west of the hollow way the earthworks are more complex. At least three,
and perhaps four narrow rectangular enclosures, each separated by ditches,
extend in parallel down the slope towards the brook. These crofts (paddocks or
enclosed areas of cultivation) are related to a series of tofts, which are the
sites of houses and outbuildings, which remain visible as slight sub-
rectangular platforms arranged along their southern ends. Faint traces of
ridged cultivation are visible within the western crofts and in the stockyards
to the east, suggesting that the village expanded, perhaps in the 12th or 13th
century, to take in part of the surrounding open field system which can still
be detected on aerial photographs. On the crest of the slope, near the
southern end of the tofts, are a number of less clearly defined platforms
representing further buildings: either dwellings or structures related to the
agricultural regime.
The moated site lies to the south of the village earthworks, slightly to the
south east of The Green, and immediately to the west of the dilapidated
remains of Moreton Farm. The moated site is sub-circular in plan, the island
measuring approximately 70m across and surrounded by a broad ditch, the south
eastern part of which has been largely infilled. The surface of the island
retains impressions of former buildings, some of which, dating from the 18th
century, formed part of the adjacent farm complex (which itself is not
included in the scheduling). The Enclosure map of 1803 depicts some of these
structures, as well as the two ponds created by enlarging the southern arm of
the moat. The moated site is thought to have been the principal messuage
associated with the medieval village although, by the mid- 17th century, it
appears to have been superseded by a manor house located approximately 100m to
the north west. The estate map of 1660 depicts an elaborate building with
three chimneys set within a rectangular enclosure which tapers towards the
north and appears to overlie part of the former village green. Two other
structures are shown in the northern part of the enclosure, a small
outbuilding with a chimney (perhaps a detached kitchen), and a rectangular
building with a large arched doorway which may have been a chapel. The
buildings have since been demolished, although the enclosure, which is
marginally raised above its surroundings and defined by a broad ditch,
survives. Low platforms indicate the locations of the main building and
putative chapel as shown on the estate map.
The village of Moreton is thought to derive its name either from its setting,
the settlement by the moor or fen, or from Earl Moreton, who held the estate
from the Bishop of Winchester at the time of Domesday (AD 1086). Despite
having relinquished its rights to the Crown for a period in the later 16th
century, the see of Winchester still held the manor of Moreton in 1797. The
tenancy passed through the hands of various families from the 16th century
onwards, including those of the Wallers, the Comptons and the Lees. A roll of
accounts from 1521-2, agreed between Thomas Lee and his brother Francis,
provides a picture of a thriving pastoral economy through sales of large
numbers of cattle and quantities of wool. The conversion from an arable
economy to one dominated by pasture may have occurred within the life of the
village, given the expansion of village enclosures over earlier ridge and
furrow, although by 1521 this process may have led to the replacement of the
village by a single farm. The village had certainly been abandoned by the time
of the estate map of 1660.
All sheds, fences, gates and feed bins 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

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Inner Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province,
an area characterised by large numbers of nucleated settlements, both
surviving and deserted, many of which are thought to have been established in
Anglo-Saxon times. Most of the sub-Province's thinly scattered dispersed
settlements were created in post-medieval times, but some of the local regions
are characterised by higher proportions of dispersed dwellings and hamlets,
which probably mark the patchy survival of older landscapes.
The South Midlands local region is large, and capable of further subdivision.
Strongly banded from south west to north east, it comprises a broad succession
of clay vales and limestone or marlstone ridges, complicated by local drifts
which create many subtle variations in terrain. The region is generally
dominated by nucleated villages of medieval origin, with isolated farmsteads,
mostly of post-medieval date, set in spaces between them. Depopulated village
sites are common, and moated sites are present on the claylands.
The site of the medieval village of Moreton is clearly defined by an area of
earthworks in which evidence for the nature of the settlement is very well
preserved. The tofts and crofts will contain buried evidence for houses and
other structures, accompanied by a range of features such a boundaries, refuse
pits and drainage channels, all related to the life of the settlement.
Artefacts found in association with these features will provide insights into
the date and duration of occupation, the lifestyle of the inhabitants and the
economy of the settlement. Environmental evidence may also be recovered,
illustrating the appearance of the landscape in which the settlement was
established and providing further information about its agricultural regime.
The Aylesbury Vale contains a number of medieval villages, some of which
continue to exist as modern villages, whilst others, such as neighbouring
settlements of Waldridge and Aston Mullins, were clearly abandoned. Moreton is
unusual in that it does not appear to follow the common trend of deliberate
depopulation prompted by the economic advantages of sheep rearing in the early
15th century; perhaps because its agricultural regime had already shifted
towards pasture by this time.
Moreton is also particularly interesting for the continuity of settlement
indicated by the moated site, which is thought to have provided the dwelling
of the principal tenant in the early stages of the village's development, and
the site of Moreton House, representing the shifted focus of the 17th century
farming estate after the demise of the village. Both the moated site and the
later manorial enclosure will contain buried evidence of buildings and other
features related to the periods of occupation; indicated, in the later case on
the map of the estate dated to 1660.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Page, F (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire: Volume II, (1908), 278
Page, F, The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1908), 278
Chalkey, B, Three Deserted Medieval Villages in the Vale of Aylesbury, 1985, Unpublished dissertation
Chalkey, B, Three Deserted Medieval Villages in the Vale of Aylesbury, 1985, Unpublished dissertation
Chalkey, B, Three Deserted Medieval Villages in the Vale of Aylesbury, 1985, Unpublished dissertation
Chalkey, B, Three Deserted Medieval Villages in the Vale of Aylesbury, 1985, Unpublished dissertation
Chalkey, B, Three Deserted Medieval Villages in the Vale of Aylesbury, 1985, Unpublished dissertation
Oblique monochrome, CUCAP (St Joseph, J.K.), NY 60-61, (1965)
Oblique monochrome, CUCAP (St Joseph, JK), SG 88, (1962)
Oblique monochrome, CUCAP, NY 60-61, (1964)
Oblique monochrome, CUCAP, SG 88, (1962)
Title: Map of Moreton House and Closes
Source Date: 1932
Tracing of 1660 map, F Gurney (1932)
Vertical monochrome, RAF, Run 348, Print 4078, (1948)

Source: Historic England

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