Ancient Monuments

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Moated site in Bower Wood, 560m south west of Bower Wood Cottages

A Scheduled Monument in Hedgerley, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.5872 / 51°35'13"N

Longitude: -0.6249 / 0°37'29"W

OS Eastings: 495364.833032

OS Northings: 188489.582776

OS Grid: SU953884

Mapcode National: GBR F76.JTJ

Mapcode Global: VHFSW.4C0L

Entry Name: Moated site in Bower Wood, 560m south west of Bower Wood Cottages

Scheduled Date: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017478

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27198

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Hedgerley

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Beaconsfield

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes both a small medieval moated site and adjoining fishpond
situated on the floor of a shallow valley separating Bower Wood from Burtley
Wood, some 0.7km to the south of Junction 2 on the M40 near Beaconsfield.
The greater part of the site lies to the south of a seasonal stream course
which follows the valley as it descends to the south east, and which
occasionally flows through the north eastern arm of the moat. The island is
roughly rectangular, enclosed by a pronounced internal bank with breaks on all
but the south western side. The internal area measures c.20m along the longer
WSW-ENE axis by 11m, and contains minor undulations which suggest the position
of former structures towards the western side. A slight depression runs across
south eastern side of the island leading from the gap in the north eastern
bank suggesting that this served as the original entrance. In the absence of a
causeway, access to the island is thought to have been provided by a bridge at
this point. The encircling moat averages 7m in width and 1.5m deep on three
sides, with steep sides and deep deposits of humic silt in the base. The
fourth side (to the south west) is partly infilled and appears as only a
slight depression. External banks, perhaps the result of successive ditch
cleaning, flank the two longer sides.
The fishpond forms a continuation of the north eastern arm of the moat,
extending for some 18m along the stream course to the south east and measuring
about 12m in width. It is presently about 1m deep, and also contains deep
deposits of accumulated leaf mould and silt. The southern end is partly
blocked by a low earthen dam, which allows a narrow outflow channel to drain
into the marshy land to the south east. A wooden sluice may have originally
been employed in this gap (at the north eastern end of the dam) to maintain
the water level in the pond and moat, and hurdles or nets staked across the
northern end of the pond would have been sufficient to contain the stock.
Evidence for both features is thought likely to survive buried within the
basal silts.
There is no direct documentary evidence for the moated site. It may, however,
be associated with a deer park located to the south of Beaconsfield which was
recorded in a grant of land by Duncan de Lascelles around AD 1200. The scale
of the site and its remote location may indicate its use as a hunting lodge.

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 in Bower Wood is a very well preserved example of the single
island type, its size and the simplicity of its design perhaps reflecting a
specialised use. The island will retain archaeological evidence for the
buildings which stood there and for other features relating to the period of
use. Artefacts illustrating the date and duration of this use and the status
of its inhabitants will be preserved here, and in the deep silts of the moat
which may also contain environmental evidence for the appearance of the
landscape in which it was set.
The fishpond attached to the moat is a significant indication of the status of
the site. The tradition of creating artificial pools of slow moving water for
the purpose of cultivating and storing fish began in the medieval period and
reached a peak of popularity in the 12th century. The ponds provided a
constant and sustainable food supply which also enabled compliance with
religious dietary requirements. They are a characteristic feature of a wide
range of religious and secular settlements, although largely the province of
the wealthier and more influential sectors of society. On sites such as Bower
Wood the fishpond was almost certainly used in conjunction with the moat
itself, the pond acting as a breeding place from which to replenish the stock.
The pond here survives well, retaining evidence for the management of the
water level and containing deep deposits of silt which will preserve
artefactual and environmental evidence related to the period of use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cantor, L M, Hatherly, J, 'Records of Bucks' in The Medieval Parks of Buckinghamshire, , Vol. 20, (1977), 431-49
Miller, D D, Miller, D M, 'Records of Bucks' in Hartly Court Moat and Enclosure, , Vol. 20, (1978), 537
Rains, M J, 'Records of Bucks' in A Moated Site at Bower Wood, Beaconsfield, (1981), 125-8
Rains, M J, 'Records of Bucks' in A Moated Site at Bower Wood, Beaconsfield, (1981), 125-8
Discussion with CAO, Farley, M, (1995)
MPP schedule entry - SM:27153, Went, D, Moated Site 140m North West of Chalfont Lodge, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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