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Moated site and fishponds 200m north west of Vatche's Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.8065 / 51°48'23"N

Longitude: -0.7463 / 0°44'46"W

OS Eastings: 486535.420641

OS Northings: 212729.931314

OS Grid: SP865127

Mapcode National: GBR D30.Q51

Mapcode Global: VHDV6.0VTH

Entry Name: Moated site and fishponds 200m north west of Vatche's Farm

Scheduled Date: 4 February 1953

Last Amended: 16 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017510

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29403

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Aston Clinton

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Aston Clinton

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes the visible and buried remains of a medieval moated site
and a related group of fishponds located to the north of the A418 Aylesbury
Road and immediately to the north west of Vatche's Farm.

The moated island is slightly trapezoidal in plan, measuring some 100m along
all but the western arm (which is some 20m longer), and surrounded on all
sides by a broad ditch, 14m to 20m in width and up to 1.4m in depth. The
island contains several broad platforms and numerous minor undulations
indicating the locations of former buildings and other structures. Medieval
artefacts collected from the site over the years include a decorative ceramic
roof finial, which points to at least one building of substantial
construction. The most distinctive platforms are located towards the western
side of the island, perhaps facing an entrance suggested by gaps in the
internal and external banks which can otherwise be traced around the moat.

To the east of the island two fishponds are arranged in line with the northern
and southern arms of the moat, each enclosed within slightly embanked rims.
The northern pond measures some 100m in length and between 20m and 40m in
width, and is water filled. The southern pond is similar in length but only
13m in width. This is now dry and measures approximately 1.2m in depth. The
two ponds appear to have been connected by a broad leat (now also dry) running
parallel to, and some 40m from, the eastern arm of the moat. An enlarged
branch from this leat may have formed a third, smaller, fishpond alongside the
southern pond. The area between the two larger ponds also contains a number of
low platforms. These may indicate the foundations of outbuildings within an
outer ward defined by the fishponds. Alternatively, the platforms could be
interpreted as garden features designed, together with the ponds, to enhance
the setting of the island. A slightly sunken trackway traverses this area
approaching the island from the east. However, since the track partly
truncates the channel connecting the main ponds, it is unlikely to be entirely
contemporary with the period of occupation.

The moated site has been identified as the possible location of Vatche's
Manor, the name of which is perpetuated by the adjacent farm. The earliest
references to the manor date from the early-13th century when it was held by
Richard de Turri. In the mid-13th century, Richard acquired a license from
Bishop Grosteste to build a chapel on his lands, perhaps within the curtilage
of the manor itself. On Richard's death (c.1371) the manor passed to Richard
de la Vache and it remained the property of this family until 1506, when it
was divided and sold. The manor was later granted to the Dean of St Paul's
Cathedral, and subsequently formed part of the endowment of St Paul's School.
The trustees of the school, the Mercers Company of London, still held Vatche's
Farm in the early part of this century. The final date of the site's
abandonment is not known, although it had clearly ceased to be occupied in
1814 as a parish map of that year shows no structures either within or
adjacent to the island.

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 near Vatche's Farm is largely undisturbed, and it remains one
of the best preserved monuments of its kind in Buckinghamshire. The island
will contain evidence of buildings in the form of buried foundations and the
impressions of timber structures, as well as other features related to the
period of occupation such as wells, yard surfaces and refuse pits. The ditches
will provide detailed information concerning the water management system, and
contain waterlogged deposits from which both artefacts and environmental
evidence can be retrieved, illustrating the development of the site and the
landscape in which it was set.

Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow-moving fresh water
constructed for the purpose of breeding and storing fish in order to provide a
consistent and sustainable supply of food. The tradition of constructing and
using fishponds began in the medieval period and reached a peak of popularity
in the 12th century. Fishponds were often grouped together, either clustered
or in line, and joined by leats; each pond being stocked with a different age
or species of fish, which could be transferred to other bodies of water such
as moats. They were largely the province of the wealthier sectors of society,
and are considered important as a source of information concerning the economy
of various classes of medieval settlements and institutions.

The fishponds adjacent to Vatche's Farm moated site form an integral part of
the settlement, and represent an important component of the medieval landscape
created to support the economy and enhance the surroundings of the moated
site. The ponds are well preserved both as visible and partly buried features,
retaining the ditches used to control the water levels within.

The moated site is thought to be that of Vache's Manor, the history and
descent of which is well documented. It lies in an area where moated sites
are relatively numerous and in quite close proximity to two similar sites at
Broughton and Buckland. Comparisons between these sites will provide valuable
insights into the development of medieval settlement in the region.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Clinch, G, The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1908), 315
Lipscomb, G, History and Antiquities of Buckinghamshire, (1847), 86-7
Bucks SMR entry, 0129, (1980)
Ordnance Survey Antiquity Model (1:2500 map base), NKB, SP 81 SE 7 Homestead moat and possible fishponds, (1972)
Ordnance Survey Antiquity Model, NKB, SP 81 SW 7 Homestead moat and possible fishponds, (1972)
Plan (copied from Eaton 1967), Bucks County Museum Service, (1985)
Plan from aerial photos (Bucks SMR), Eaton, H (Capt), Moat, Area SU 865127, Aston Clinton, (1967)
Plot from aerial photos (Bucks SMR), Eaton, H (Capt), Moat, Area SU 865127, Aston Clinton, (1967)
Title: Tithe Map Aston Clinton
Source Date: 1814
Bucks PRO MA/8/1.R

Source: Historic England

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