Ancient Monuments

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Moated site immediately south east of St Nicholas's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Chearsley, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.7862 / 51°47'10"N

Longitude: -0.9559 / 0°57'21"W

OS Eastings: 472115.629638

OS Northings: 210241.07814

OS Grid: SP721102

Mapcode National: GBR C1L.YZS

Mapcode Global: VHDV8.DC0K

Entry Name: Moated site immediately south east of St Nicholas's Church

Scheduled Date: 2 December 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018669

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32109

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Chearsley

Built-Up Area: Chearsley

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Chearsley

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a medieval moated site with associated fishpond. It is
sited towards the south eastern end of the village of Chearsley on ground
which slopes steeply to the east, approximately 200m to the west of the River

The moated site includes a roughly square island measuring approximately 78m
in width. This is contained by a ditch, averaging 18m across and up to 4m
deep, on the west and south sides. An outer bank, approximately 3m wide and
thought to be the upcast from the ditch, is also visible on these two sides.
The eastern side of the moat and the eastern end of the northern arm have been
largely infilled although the ditch remains visible as a shallow depression.
The north west corner of the moat was infilled in the 19th century and is no
longer visible but will survive as a buried feature.
Access to the island is thought to have been by bridge, and a shallow hollow,
about 4m wide, on the west side of the island, is thought to mark the site of
such a structure. An eastern extension to the southern arm of the ditch, which
is believed to represent an outflow channel, continues for a distance of
approximately 30m, disappearing about 5m to the south of, and parallel with, a
shallow fishpond which measures approximately 34m long by 12m wide and is
included in the scheduling.

The telegraph poles and fences within the area of the monument 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 immediately south east of St Nicholas's Church survives well.
The island is largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for
structures and other features relating to its construction and occupation. The
buried silts in the base of the ditches will contain both artefacts relating
to the period of occupation and environmental evidence for the appearance of
the landscape in which the monument was constructed. Despite some infilling of
the north and east arms of the moat in the 1980s and levelling of the north
west corner in the early 19th century the features survive well.

Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow moving fresh water
constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish in order
to provide a constant and sustainable food supply. The tradition of
constructing and using fishponds began in the medieval period and reached a
peak of popularity in the 12th century. They were largely the province of the
wealthier sectors of medieval society, and are considered important as a
source of information concerning the economy of various classes of medieval
settlements and institutions. The fishpond adjacent to the moated site forms
an integral part of the settlement and provides further evidence for its
economy and status.

The monument lies in an area where moated sites are relatively numerous
enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. The prominent
location of the moat and its proximity to the parish church may be a
reflection of the status of the owners in the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Sheahan, J J, History and Topography of Buckinghamshire, (1861), 349
Taken from O.S. record card, Moated Site South East of Chearsley Church,

Source: Historic England

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