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Moated site of Old Berghersh House

A Scheduled Monument in Witnesham, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.1275 / 52°7'38"N

Longitude: 1.1852 / 1°11'6"E

OS Eastings: 618118.620738

OS Northings: 252468.827911

OS Grid: TM181524

Mapcode National: GBR VN9.LG9

Mapcode Global: VHLBF.HSFG

Entry Name: Moated site of Old Berghersh House

Scheduled Date: 25 May 1960

Last Amended: 27 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017908

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21401

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: Witnesham

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Witnesham St Mary

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich


The monument includes the moated site of Old Berghersh House, located on level
ground 1.5km north of the village and parish church of Witnesham, which lie
in the valley of the River Fynn below.

The moat, which is water-filled, steep-sided and ranges in width between
approximately 8m and 12.5m, surrounds a sub-rectangular central island with
maximum internal dimensions of 75m east-west by 70m. The eastern end of the
northern arm of the moat is enlarged to form a rectangular external pond which
measures approximately 22m north-south by 27.5m east-west and is thought to be
an original feature.

Another pond, formed by an enlargement of the south east external angle of the
moat but now largely silted, is visible as a hollow about 0.75m deep in the
ground surface. Access to the interior is provided by causeways across the
southern ends of the eastern and western arms of the moat, although the dished
profiles of both these features is evidence that they were created by
infilling sections of the moat, probably to replace an earlier bridge.
Evidence for the substantial house which once stood on the central island
includes a large quantity of broken clay roof tiles and other building
material which was exposed on the surface when the site was ploughed. The
location of the house and associated buildings is indicated by the recorded
distribution of these finds, concentrated across the eastern half of the
island as a whole and along the northern and southern sides. Pottery fragments
found on the surface have been dated to between the 13th and 15th centuries.

The water supply to Berghersh Farm House (now Berghersh Place), which was
built in 1810, was formerly pumped from the moat, and a brick structure,
thought to be part of a filter chamber and included in the scheduling, is
visible in the outer side of the western arm of the moat.

Modern gate and fence posts and a service pole near the inner edge of the
southern arm of the moat are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath 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.

The moated site of Old Berghersh House survives well, with all parts of the
moat intact and the central island unencumbered by modern buildings. Remains
of the house and associated buildings, together with other features and
deposits relating to the original construction and earlier use of the site
will be preserved below the level of the old ploughsoil. Organic materials,
including evidence for the local environment in the past, are likely to be
preserved in waterlogged deposits in the moat and external pond.

Source: Historic England


Notes in file, Witnesham, Berghersh House; WTN 002, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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