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Moated site at Watton Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Navestock, Essex

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Latitude: 51.635 / 51°38'5"N

Longitude: 0.2118 / 0°12'42"E

OS Eastings: 553167.115693

OS Northings: 195223.550157

OS Grid: TQ531952

Mapcode National: GBR T8.Q2G

Mapcode Global: VHHN1.M5BG

Entry Name: Moated site at Watton Farm

Scheduled Date: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017472

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29386

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Navestock

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Navestock St Thomas

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes a small medieval moated site located immediately east of
Watton Farm, on the north side of the road known as Horseman Side which marks
the southern boundary of Navestock Common.
The moated island is narrow and rectangular, measuring approximately 55m east
to west and 18m north to south, and surrounded on all but the western side by
a seasonally wet ditch varying between 5m and 9m in width and averaging 1.5m
in depth. The base of the ditch contains deep deposits of humic silt, some of
which has accumulated since the arms were partly cleaned in the 1970s. The
fourth arm of the ditch is not visible above ground but is thought to survive
as a buried feature beneath a patio alongside the farmhouse.
The southern arm of the moat is linked to a shallow drainage ditch running to
the north east parallel to the road, a 2m length of which is included in the
scheduling in order to protect the archaeological relationship at this
junction. The main water supply to the moat, however, is thought to have been
provided by a buried leat which enters the north eastern corner of the moat
and extends across the adjacent pasture for a distance of 80m where it joins
with an existing hedgerow ditch. This feature, and the low mound of upcast
flanking its western edge, is also included in the scheduling.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the brick
retaining wall at the north west terminal of the moat, the surfaces of the
patio and paths and all fences and fence posts; the ground beneath these
features is, however, 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 Watton Farm is a good example of the single island type
which retains clear evidence for the water management system. Despite some
alterations to the monument, particularly the infilling of one section of the
ditch and the clearance of some of the later silts, the greater part of the
site has survived with minimal disturbance. Environmental evidence may be
recovered from the undisturbed silts in the base of the moat, illustrating the
appearance of the landscape in which the monument was set. Buried remains of
buildings on the island itself will provide evidence for the function and
economy of the site, and artefacts buried on the island and in the fills of
the ditch will provide valuable evidence for the date of construction, the
duration of subsequent use, and for the lifestyle and status of the site's
The monument lies in an area in which villages and hamlets were extremely
scarce in the medieval period. Moated sites, on the other hand, were quite
numerous and provide the evidence for our understanding of the character of
settlement and land use. Comparisions between these sites will allow detailed
study of the development of this settlement form and illustrate chronological
and social variations.

Source: Historic England


Antiquity Model and notes (SMR 626), Ordnance Survey, TQ 59 085, (1975)
Gazeteer in Essex SMR files., Medieval Settlements Research Group, TQ 59 NW Watton Farm. Moated Sites in Essex, (1975)

Source: Historic England

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