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Moated site in Prestley Wood, 800m north east of Cartwright's Farm

A Scheduled Monument in The Stukeleys, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.3661 / 52°21'58"N

Longitude: -0.1975 / 0°11'50"W

OS Eastings: 522826.521846

OS Northings: 275759.989779

OS Grid: TL228757

Mapcode National: GBR J28.QVM

Mapcode Global: VHGLP.JSGH

Entry Name: Moated site in Prestley Wood, 800m north east of Cartwright's Farm

Scheduled Date: 22 October 1954

Last Amended: 27 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017843

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29707

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: The Stukeleys

Traditional County: Huntingdonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Great Stukeley St Bartholomew

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes a medieval moated site located in Prestley Wood, 800m
north east of Cartwright's Farm, close to the south eastern end of the main
runway of Alconbury Airfield.

It includes two moated islands, one contained within the other. The outer
enclosure is roughly triangular in plan, measuring about 150m north to south
at its western end and 174m east to west. The inner moat lies towards the
southern side of the outer enclosure, forming a rectangle which shares one
side with the southern arm of the outer moat.

The inner moated island measures approximately 61m north to south and
39.5m east to west, and is defined by a water-filled moat some 8m wide and
about 2.4m deep. The outer edge of this moat is banked on the northern,
eastern and western sides. Access to the island is thought to have been via a
causeway on the western side where a lowering of the ground surface of the
otherwise level island corresponds with traces of a ramp in the outer

The outer moat, which varies in width up to approximately 4m, is between 1m
and 1.8m deep. It is thought to have partly silted up and is now dry. The
area enclosed by this outer moat is about 2.25ha. There are no features
visible in the outer courtyard apart from an oval fishpond, which is connected
to the south western angle of the inner moat, and two depressions to the north
which may represent further ponds.

To the south, a low, irregular bank follows the southern sides of the
fishpond, the inner moat and the southern arm of the outer ditch. It cannot
be traced elsewhere and may have been intended as a facade to the whole

The moated site has been identified with the manor of Prestleys, which was
held of the Honour of Huntingdon and granted to Simon de Senliz in the early
13th century. Simon's successors held the manor until the mid-14th century
when it was granted to Nicholas Stukeley. Thereafter, the manor of Prestleys
formed part of the Stukeley estates, eventually passing through the female
line to the Torkington family who held it from 1539 until the 19th century.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 Prestley Wood survives largely undisturbed and remains one
of the best preserved monuments of its kind in Cambridgeshire. The island and
outer enclosure will contain buried evidence for former buildings as well as
other features related to the period of occupation such as yard surfaces and
refuse pits. The ditches will provide detailed information concerning the
water management system, and will contain waterlogged deposits from which both
artefacts and environmental evidence can be retrieved, to illustrate 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 at the Prestley Wood moated site form an integral part of the
settlement and represent an important component of the medieval landscape
created to support the economy of the settlement. Their location close to the
entrance to the site may also have been intended to enhance the setting of the
inner island and to indicate the occupant's status.

The southern fishpond is a particularly well preserved visible feature which
may retain further waterlogged deposits relating both to its use and to the
site in general.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Huntingdon, (1932), 230

Source: Historic England

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