Ancient Monuments

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Otter Pond: moated site 200m west of Dewemede Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Folksworth and Washingley, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.4949 / 52°29'41"N

Longitude: -0.319 / 0°19'8"W

OS Eastings: 514221.980849

OS Northings: 289885.375785

OS Grid: TL142898

Mapcode National: GBR GZ7.J6H

Mapcode Global: VHGL1.FK77

Entry Name: Otter Pond: moated site 200m west of Dewemede Farm

Scheduled Date: 14 June 1976

Last Amended: 12 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017882

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29705

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Folksworth and Washingley

Built-Up Area: Folksworth

Traditional County: Huntingdonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Folkesworth St Helen

Church of England Diocese: Ely


Otter Pond, a medieval moated site, lies 200m west of Dewemede Farm, on a
slight slope to the east of, and partly within, Biglins Wood. The monument
includes the moated island together with the remains of an outer enclosure on
the western side. Immediately to the south is an area of medieval cultivation
earthworks which is thought to be associated with the moated site, and a
sample of these earthworks is included in the scheduling.
The central island is roughly oval in shape, measuring about 60m long by a
maximum of 35m wide. There are traces of banks to the south and north west,
and slight undulations in the centre suggest the location of former
The island is enclosed by a partly infilled moat some 3m wide and 0.8m deep,
and an outer bank approximately 1m high. The moat is generally dry but parts
to the north east and west are seasonally damp. A causeway approximately 8m
wide through the bank and ditch to the east provides access to the island.
At the south eastern corner of the moat a shallow ditch extends in a north
easterly direction for about 20m. This extension is thought to be a leat
constructed to drain off surplus water, preventing flooding of the island
during wet periods.
A second, less substantial enclosure ditch runs west from the south western
corner of the moat, curving gently to the north west. The southern portion of
the ditch is clearly visible. However, it is less evident where it passes
through Biglins Wood except at its northerly extent, where it joins a field
ditch, and may have been modified in recent times to form part of a modern
drainage system. This northerly extent is, therefore, not included in the
There is no clear documentary evidence to connect the moated site with
manorial holdings in Folksworth. However, the Domesday Survey of 1086 lists
only one manor here, held before that date by Walter Giffard, a cousin of
William the Conqueror. Walter's son, who was created Earl of Buckingham, held
the manor from 1085 and it subsequently passed to the Earl of Pembroke. In
1086 the manor was sub-enfoeffed to Hugh de Bolebec whose son founded Woburn
All fences, fence posts, gates, feed and water troughs and pheasant rearing
equipment are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them
is included.

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 known as Otter Pond is a well preserved example of its type
and is largely undisturbed. The relative simplicity of the layout implies a
functional rather than a prestigious lifestyle for the occupants. Artefactural
evidence contained within the interior of the island and the fills of the
surrounding ditch will illustrate the duration of occupation, the character of
which may be further determined from the buried remains of buildings and other
features such as yard surfaces, wells and refuse pits on the island and at the
entrance. The ditch will also retain environmental evidence to illustrate the
landscape in which the monument was set.
Ridge and furrow cultivation, created to provide drainage and equal division
of land, is a distinctive and characteristic feature of the medieval period
and, where the earthworks survive, they provide a valuable insight into the
apportionment of land and of the agricultural practices of the time.
The area of ridge and furrow cultivation to the south east of Otter Pond
contributes to an understanding of the economy of the moated site and
preserves a valuable remnant of its contemporary setting.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Page, W, Proby, G , The Victoria History of the County of Huntingdon, (1936), 173

Source: Historic England

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