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Moats Hall moated site

A Scheduled Monument in St. Cross, South Elmham, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.4078 / 52°24'28"N

Longitude: 1.3725 / 1°22'21"E

OS Eastings: 629486.330627

OS Northings: 284217.586827

OS Grid: TM294842

Mapcode National: GBR WLK.5TC

Mapcode Global: VHL95.QRZ1

Entry Name: Moats Hall moated site

Scheduled Date: 23 February 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017634

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30523

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: St. Cross, South Elmham

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: South Elmham St Cross St Cross

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich


The monument includes the moated site of a former rectory, situated 450m west
of the church of St Cross on the south side of the valley of The Beck, a minor
tributary of the River Waveney which runs 1km to the north west.

The moat, which ranges from approximately 6m to 9m in width and remains open
to a depth of up to 2m, surrounds the western, southern and eastern sides and
the north eastern corner of a sub-rectangular central platform with maximum
internal dimensions of 87m east-west by 50m. The part of the northern arm of
the moat which remains visible, extending westwards from the north east angle,
is approximately 25m in length, open to a depth of around 1m, and is dry.
Immediately to the west of this section is a sub-rectangular hollow, measuring
approximately 25m east-west by 22m and up to 0.5m in depth, which is thought
to represent an infilled moat terminal which was enlarged on the outer side to
form a pond. This will survive as a buried feature and is included in the
scheduling. Adjoining it to the west there will have been a causeway giving
access to the interior. Much of the eastern arm of the moat is seasonally wet
and the southern arm, part of which is said to have been redug to make a
garden water feature, remains water-filled, fed by surface drainage. Towards
the southern end of the eastern arm there is a bay approximately 8m wide and
5m deep in the outer edge, and at the western end of the southern arm,
projecting from the outer edge, the remains of an external pond are visible as
a hollow in the ground surface measuring approximately 9m north-south by 4m.
The northern end of the western arm has been infilled, but the buried remains
are marked by a slight linear depression in the surface of the track which
crosses it.

The central platform is raised at the southern end approximately 0.3m above
the level of the prevailing ground surface, and buried structural remains have
been observed on the eastern part of it. The former rectory, which stands on
on the northern side, is of 19th century date, and was built to replace an
earlier house on the site. This building is excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath it is included.

The monument is one of several rectorial moated sites in the different
parishes which made up the manor of South Elmham. The manor was held in the
later 11th century by the Bishop of Thetford, and subsequently, until the
Reformation, by the Bishops of Norwich, one of whose country seats was at
South Elmham Hall, 1.4km to the south east. The other rectorial moated sites
and the moated site at South Elmham Hall are the subjects of separate

The house, the adjoining outbuildings, yard walls and surfaces, the supports
for an oil tank, inspection chambers, the surfaces of driveways, all fence and
gateposts, the supports of a rustic pergola, service poles with associated
stays, and the pipes and concrete and brick outlets of drains which issue into
the western arm of the moat, are excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath all these features 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.

Moats Hall moated site survives well; a large part of this moat, more than
half of the total length, has undergone no modern disturbance, and the area of
the central platform occupied by later buildings is relatively small. Deposits
on the central island and in the fill of the moat will contain archaeological
information concerning the construction and subsequent occupation of the
moated site. Organic materials, including evidence for the local environment
in the past, are likely to be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the moat.
Evidence for earlier land use will also be contained in buried soils beneath
the raised central platform. The monument has additional interest as one of
the several rectorial moated sites which survive within the episcopal manor of
South Elmham, among a variety of features which are of importance for the
study of the medieval landscape and medieval settlement in the area.

Source: Historic England


Lewis, Major J A , (1997)
NMR TM 28 SE 12, (1973)

Source: Historic England

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