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Moated site 150m south of St James' Church

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

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Latitude: 52.3784 / 52°22'42"N

Longitude: 1.411 / 1°24'39"E

OS Eastings: 632257.989931

OS Northings: 281068.978248

OS Grid: TM322810

Mapcode National: GBR WLT.X4D

Mapcode Global: VHM6V.DHT2

Entry Name: Moated site 150m south of St James' Church

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017913

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30522

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: St. James, South Elmham

Built-Up Area: St James South Elmham

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: South Elmham St James St James

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich


The monument includes a moated site located on level ground 150m south of St
James' parish church. The moated site is rectangular in plan, with maximum
overall dimensions of approximately 72m south west-north east by 58m, and the
moat, which varies in width from approximately 10m at the western end of the
southern arm to 4.5m, encloses the north, west and south sides of the central
platform. The eastern side is defined by a modern field boundary, but on the
inner (western) side of this, towards the southern end, can be seen a slight
depression approximately 4m wide in the ground surface, which is believed to
mark the buried remains of a continuation of the moat ditch, now almost
completely infilled, around the south eastern corner. The moat, which is fed
by surface drainage, contains water except at the eastern end, where both the
northern and southern arms diminish in width and visible depth. There is
evidence, however, that this part of the southern arm has become partly
infilled and was originally wider, the line of the original outer lip being
marked by a break in the ground surface. The corresponding end of the northern
arm has become almost completely infilled, but can be traced as a slight
linear hollow in the ground surface, beneath which it will survive as a buried
feature. An external pond, which is included in the scheduling, opens off the
western arm of the moat, extending approximately 25m south westwards from its
outer edge. The western end of this pond has been partly infilled, but the
outline remains visible as a break in the ground surface.

In the south eastern part of the area enclosed by the moat there is a slightly
raised rectangular platform on which stood a cottage built of clay lump. The
building was damaged by the blast from an explosion at a munitions dump at
Metfield air base in 1944 and was subsequently demolished, but traces of it
will survive below the ground surface.

Originally, the moated site probably contained a medieval manorial dwelling
which, together with the church, the earliest parts of which are dated to the
late 11th or early 12th century, represents the core of a medieval settlement.
Elsewhere in the parish there is evidence for medieval settlement to the west,
around the southern end of Greshaw Green (enclosed in the mid-19th century),
and to the south east, skirting the north side of a medieval deer park
belonging to the bishop of Norwich, which lay 500m to the south of the moated
site. (St James was one of the nine parishes of what was termed the liberty,
manor or township of South Elmham which, until the time of the Reformation was
held chiefly by the bishops of Norwich.)

A shed standing within the moated site, and a modern barn and associated yard
surface above the south east corner are excluded from the scheduling, together
with all modern fence and gate posts, 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 150m south of St James' Church survives in good condition, and
all but a small part of it is unencumbered by modern structures. The moat
ditch and buried deposits on the central platform will retain archaeological
information relating to the construction and occupation of the site during the
medieval period. Evidence for later use, and organic materials, including
evidence for the local environment in the past, are likely to be preserved in
waterlogged deposits in the moat.
As one of several prominent features of the medieval landscape which survive
or whose location is known within the parish, the moated site is of particular
interest for the study of medieval settlement patterns and land holding within
the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hardy, M J, Martin, E A, 'Proc Suffolk Inst Archaeol' in Archaeology in Suffolk: South East Suffolk Field Survey, , Vol. 86 pt 2, (1986), 146-149
Hardy, M J, Martin, E A, 'Proc Suffolk Inst Archaeol' in Archaeology In Suffolk: South East Suffolk Field Survey, , Vol. 86 pt 3, (1987), 232-235
Chilvers, G, (1997)

Source: Historic England

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