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Parsonage Farm moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Great Dunmow, Essex

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Latitude: 51.8832 / 51°52'59"N

Longitude: 0.3617 / 0°21'42"E

OS Eastings: 562645.306603

OS Northings: 223153.679331

OS Grid: TL626231

Mapcode National: GBR NG4.VP9

Mapcode Global: VHJJ7.7X2P

Entry Name: Parsonage Farm moated site

Scheduled Date: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017469

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31222

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Great Dunmow

Built-Up Area: Great Dunmow

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Great Dunmow St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes a small medieval moated site located on the eastern side
of Parsonage Farm, on the tip of a broad spur to the north of Church End,
Great Dunmow, which overlooks the valley of the River Chelmer to the north and
The moated site is roughly sqaure in plan, the island measuring approximately
60m across and enclosed on all but the northern side by a broad ditch. The
arms of the ditch average 12m in width and, having been largely infilled,
rarely exceed 0.6m in depth. The western arm has been completely buried in
recent years although its position is marked on maps dating from the 1970s and
earlier. There is no indication of a northern arm on the tithe map of 1843,
and it is thought that the pronounced outward facing scarp on this side of the
island was the only form of demarcation. The island itself is raised
marginally above its surroundings and its surface retains slight undulations
which have been interpreted as indications of former structures. No buildings
were shown on the island in 1843 and these buried features are considered to
relate to the medieval use of the site, and to remain relatively undisturbed.
The north eastern corner of the moat contains a small pond which, although
recently cleared of modern debris, is not thought to penetrate to the floor of
the original ditch. The north western corner has been partly disturbed by the
construction of a modern patio, and is not included in the scheduling.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are a brick
garden wall to the east of the patio and the timber supports for an adjacent
arbour, although the ground beneath these features 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 alterations to the monument, particularly the infilling of sections of
the ditches and the construction of the patio to the north west, the major
part of the moated site at Parsonage Farm has survived well with minimal
disturbance. The buried fills of the ditch are preserved, containing artefacts
related to the period of occupation as well as environmental evidence
illustrating the appearance of the landscape in which it was set. The island
will retain evidence of the layout of the original buildings, and provide
valuable information regarding the date of construction, the evolution of the
settlement through time, and the status and lifestyle of its inhabitants.
Comparison of this site with other moated sites in the region may provide
insights into the chronological and social variations suggested by differences
in size, design and location.

Source: Historic England


Antiquity Model, Ordnance Survey, TL 62 SW 16, (1975)
conversation with owner, Ramsay, I, Parsonage Moat Pond, (1996)
Gazetteer (with sketches) Essex SMR, Stokes, A H (Med.Settlements Research Group), TL 62-022, (1977)
RCHME, Inventory of Historic Monuments, Essex, (1916)
Title: Tithe Award
Source Date: 1843
Great Dunmow Award (Essex PRO)
Title: TL6223
Source Date: 1977
1:2500 Map showing traces of E arm

Source: Historic England

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