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Moated sites, settlement remains and associated field system 450m east of Southley Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Alpraham, Cheshire East

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.1281 / 53°7'41"N

Longitude: -2.6256 / 2°37'32"W

OS Eastings: 358233.950678

OS Northings: 359177.284344

OS Grid: SJ582591

Mapcode National: GBR 7N.6YJG

Mapcode Global: WH99W.MMXS

Entry Name: Moated sites, settlement remains and associated field system 450m east of Southley Farm

Scheduled Date: 29 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018079

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30373

County: Cheshire East

Civil Parish: Alpraham

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Tilstone Fearnall St Jude

Church of England Diocese: Chester

Details

The monument includes a moated site and a larger moated platform together with
headlands and ridge and furrow cultivation in the fields to the east of the
moat. This represents the remains of the manor house of Southley and some of
the open fields connected to the community, lying to the south of Southley
Common.
The Manor is mentioned in 1305 and a Southley Hall is named in 1494.
The moat survives at the western end of the site. It was fed by a small brook
from the south which formed fishponds on the south and west sides. The north
and east arms of the moat are artificially created ditches, 18m across. The
south and east arms of the moat have been partly infilled and disturbed by the
excavations which took place when the present railway line was being built
along the southern side of the site. The moat platform measures 22m by 53m.
To the east of the moated manor house was a larger moated platform. This
measures 78m wide at the eastern end and 103m long and has the bed of the
brook as its southern edge and a ditch 5m wide along its other three sides.
The northern side is partly obscured by a modern ditch which has been cut to
form a field boundary and control a small brook which once flowed along that
side of the moat. On the south western quarter of this moated platform there
are traces of an enclosure within which a house would have stood. On the rest
of the platform there are remains of ridge and furrow cultivation with
intervals of 4.5m between the ridges.
To the east of this large platform there are the remains of ridge and furrow
cultivation which occupy the whole northern part of this field from the
northern boundary to the brook edge. Through this area there is a hollow way
which leads from the north east corner of the field towards the bridge across
the railway line. Where the hollow way would have crossed the brook there is a
large dressed sandstone block which may have formed one of the abutments for a
bridge. To the south of the brook there is higher ground, crossed by areas of
ridge and furrow cultivation and three possible house platforms with the
hollow way running through them. These features are less well-defined than the
features on the north side of the brook and may have been eroded by the
traffic created when the railway was built.
The surface of a trackway, formed of bricks and raised above the normal
field level, is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it
is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Cheshire Plain sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, a gently rolling plain of red marl covered by ice-carried
clays, sands and gravels. It is diversified by occasional sandstone
escarpments, notably the Central Cheshire Ridge east of the Dee valley. It has
lower densities of nucleated settlements than surrounding areas, and high
concentrations of dispersed farmsteads and small hamlets. In the Wirral and
the lower Dee and Weaver valleys, the settlement mix is different, with low
and medium densities of dispersed farmsteads intermixed with more frequent
villages. Domesday Book records a thin scatter of settlement in the Wirral,
the Dee lowlands and the central and southern plain in 1086, with much
woodland.

The Cheshire Plain local region is marked by a wide range of settlement forms
such as market towns, villages and scattered farmsteads. There are numerous
small hamlets bearing the name 'green' associated with areas of common grazing
land as well as moated sites. These types of settlement are known to have
medieval roots although it is not yet clear which represent the oldest forms.
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 settlement at Southley with its common, moated manor house and associated
field systems with a trace of the house platforms and cultivation plots
survives well in spite of some later damage to the moat. The remains provide a
relatively undisturbed view of a later medieval settlement and have not been
ploughed down as in other areas of this region.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Williams, S, West Cheshire from the Air, (1997)
Other
Williams, J R, West Cheshire from the Air,

Source: Historic England

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