Ancient Monuments

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Moated site 320m north west of St Leonard's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Grendon Underwood, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.8845 / 51°53'4"N

Longitude: -1.0219 / 1°1'19"W

OS Eastings: 467413.467089

OS Northings: 221115.064733

OS Grid: SP674211

Mapcode National: GBR 9Z1.SJZ

Mapcode Global: VHDTN.7WLP

Entry Name: Moated site 320m north west of St Leonard's Church

Scheduled Date: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017511

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29404

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Grendon Underwood

Built-Up Area: Grendon Underwood

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Grendon Underwood

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a medieval moated site located to the west of the
village of Grendon Underwood, at the foot of a broad slope descending from the
parish church toward a narrow brook known as the River Ray.

The brook runs alongside and to the north of the north west arm of the moat
which, at about 130m, is the longest arm in a trapezoidal circuit. The island
enclosed by this circuit has a maximum length of 100m and is some 40m in
width to the south west and 20m to the north east. The surface of the island
is quite level, although it is surrounded by a broad internal bank
incorporating slightly raised mounds at the northern and eastern corners. The
moat, which averages 7m in width and 1.2m in depth, is thought to have been
fed by surface water. It is now dry, apart from a single pond created within
the south eastern arm. The western arms of the moat are flanked by a low
external bank, which may have resulted from the periodic cleaning of the ditch
during the period of occupation.

Access to the island was provided by a narrow causeway near the centre of the
south eastern arm of the moat and a corresponding gap in the inner bank. The
entrance is orientated towards the village on the hillside above, and the
parish church which is thought to have originated in the 12th century.

The feed bin and the standing remains of a brick and timber barn on the island
are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is 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 320m north west of St Leonard's Church survives largely
undisturbed and 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
buried 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.

The monument lies in an area where moated sites are relatively numerous and is
in particularly close proximity to a similar moated site some 400m to the
north east. Comparisons between these sites will enable valuable insights into
the development of medieval settlement in the region.

Source: Historic England


Antiquity Model (and 1:2500 Map), BHS, SP 62 SE 1 Homestead Moat, (1973)
Field visit notes, Farley, M, 0425 Moated Site, Grendon Underwood, (1971)
Oblique monochrome photographs, Farley, M, BCM A/P A20/8/25-30, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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