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Latitude: 52.3205 / 52°19'13"N
Longitude: -0.1715 / 0°10'17"W
OS Eastings: 524720.941549
OS Northings: 270727.643093
OS Grid: TL247707
Mapcode National: GBR J2W.KFR
Mapcode Global: VHGLW.ZX5Z
Entry Name: Moated site 170m east of St Mary's Church
Scheduled Date: 15 December 1976
Last Amended: 18 September 1998
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1018393
English Heritage Legacy ID: 11550
Civil Parish: Godmanchester
Built-Up Area: Godmanchester
Traditional County: Huntingdonshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire
Church of England Parish: Godmanchester St Mary
Church of England Diocese: Ely
The monument includes a medieval moated site approximately 170m east of St
Mary's Church. The moated site is believed to be the site of a house belonging
to the Prior of Merton, an Augustinian priory in Surrey which was founded in
the early 12th century. The Church of St Mary at Godmanchester was
granted to the Prior, with attached lands, by King Stephen (1135-54). The
house is referred to in a document of 1276 and is depicted on a map of the
early 16th century. In 1538 Merton Priory was dissolved and its lands in
Godmanchester were given to Westminster Abbey. The house is thought to have
been demolished soon afterwards.
The moated site takes the form of a large enclosure measuring up to 70m by
80m. It is bounded on the north east and north west sides by a ditch
approximately 2m-3m in width and up to 2m deep; this feature represents the
remains of a moat, now partly infilled, which formerly enclosed the site on
all four sides. On the outside of the north eastern arm of the moat are the
remains of an external bank, now surviving to a height of approximately 0.5m.
A shallow linear depression running along the south eastern side of the
enclosure marks the location of a part of the moat which was infilled in the
mid-20th century but which survives as a buried feature. The enclosure is
bounded on the south west side by the remains of a further arm of the moat
which was largely infilled in the late 19th century and similarly survives
below ground level.
On the interior of the moated enclosure are a series of shallow earthworks
including, on the eastern side, a large raised platform which is believed to
represent the location of the principal buildings which occupied the
enclosure. These are depicted on an early 16th century map as a substantial
complex of one- and two-storey buildings with tiled roofs and ornate chimneys.
Archaeological deposits in this area will include the buried foundations of
these buildings and associated materials. Ancillary buildings such as stables
and barns would also have stood within the moated enclosure. In the south
western half of the enclosure, which is low-lying, the remains of drainage
ditches subdivide an area which may have been occupied by paddocks, gardens or
All standing sheds and fences 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.
Source: Historic England
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 170m east of St Mary's Church survives well as a series of
earthworks and buried deposits. Waterlogging in the moat indicates a high
level of survival for organic remains, such as leather and wood, which will
provide valuable evidence for domestic and economic activity on the site. The
site has been the subject of historical research and is thus quite well
understood. As a relatively high-status residence associated with a
monastery, the buried remains of the house and associated features will
provide an insight into the functioning of such an establishment in both a
secular and an ecclesiastical context.
Source: Historic England
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