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Moated site 180m south west of St James's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Bierton with Broughton, Buckinghamshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8284 / 51°49'42"N

Longitude: -0.7894 / 0°47'21"W

OS Eastings: 483520.404098

OS Northings: 215107.874524

OS Grid: SP835151

Mapcode National: GBR D2R.C7B

Mapcode Global: VHDV5.89JQ

Entry Name: Moated site 180m south west of St James's Church

Scheduled Date: 19 March 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018760

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32102

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Bierton with Broughton

Built-Up Area: Aylesbury

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Bierton and Hulcott

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

Details

The monument includes a medieval moated site with associated fishpond and a
sample of the surrounding medieval cultivation earthworks 180m south west of
St James's Church. It is sited towards the south western edge of the village
of Bierton and south east of the A418 Leighton Buzzard to Aylesbury road.

The moated site includes a roughly rectangular island with a dome shaped
profile, which measures approximately 38m north east-south west by 22m north
west-south east. This is surrounded by a ditch with a maximum width of 10m and
a depth of approximately 2m which is water-filled to a depth of about 0.3m. An
outer bank, about 4m wide and thought to be the upcast from the ditch, is
visible on the south east, north east and south west sides. Extending
southwards from the southern corner of the ditch are a channel and pond bay
which are thought to represent part of the original outflow channel and
which have now been altered to accommodate a modern drainage ditch. A causeway
across the eastern arm of the moat may possibly mark the original access to
the island.

About 3.5m to the south east of and parallel with the south eastern arm of the
moat is a fishpond which was partly filled in the 1970s and now survives as
a shallow depression, approximately 40m north east-south west by a maximum of
10m north west-south east with a wide outer bank on its southern side. It is
thought that the fishpond was connected to the moat ditch by a leat which has
also been infilled.

To the south and south west of the moated site are traces of medieval ridge
and furrow cultivation, orientated with the moat and thought to be
contemporary with it. A 10m wide sample of the ridge and furrow to the west of
the moated site is included in the scheduling in order to protect the
archaeological relationship between the cultivation earthworks and the moated
site.

The moat is shown as `Dove House Close' on the inclosure map of 1718, and a
small rectangular building is marked on the north western edge of the island.
The local Antiquarian J J Sheahan, writing in 1862, mentions the existence of
a `dwelling house' and of a drawbridge which was `still in tolerable condition
in 1820'.

The wire fence around the base of the ditch, and the garden walls, steps and
small bridge on the outer extent of the northern arm of the moat are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 180m south west of St James's Church survives well. It is
largely undisturbed and will retain evidence for structures and other features
relating to the period of occupation. The buried silts in the base of the
ditch will contain both artefacts relating to the period of occupation and
environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which the
monument was set. The fishpond and the ridge and furrow cultivation associated
with the moated site provide further evidence for its economy and status.

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
survives, albeit as a largely buried feature, and remains an integral part of
the settlement evidence.

Part of the contemporary management of the surrounding landscape is clearly
visible in the surviving pattern of medieval cultivation which abuts the moat
to the west.

The monument lies in an area where moated sites are relatively numerous, and
is situated in close proximity to two such sites; one to the east of Hulcott
Church, 2.5km to the north east and the other at Manor Farm, Broughton, 1.7km
to the south east. Comparisons between these sites will provide valuable
insights into developments in the nature of settlement and society in the
medieval period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Page, W , The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1925), 321-322
Sheahan, J, History and Topography of Buckinghamshire, (1862), 97
RCHM, , 'History of Buckinghamshire' in Bierton with Broughton, , Vol. 1, (1912), 50
Other
Miles, P.R, Bierton: Undergraduate Dissertation, 1981, Copy in SMR file
owner of site, Bell, B, (1998)
Title: Bierton and Hulcott Inclosure Map
Source Date: 1718
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:
Bucks Record Office IR/IA.R

Source: Historic England

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