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Moated site at Moat Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Willingham St. Mary, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.4106 / 52°24'38"N

Longitude: 1.5684 / 1°34'6"E

OS Eastings: 642790.90045

OS Northings: 285172.943237

OS Grid: TM427851

Mapcode National: GBR XMZ.TLG

Mapcode Global: VHM6R.4NJW

Entry Name: Moated site at Moat Farm

Scheduled Date: 3 April 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018965

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30577

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: Willingham St. Mary

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Shadingfield St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich


The monument includes a moated site and an adjacent small moated island which
is thought to be the site of an associated dovecote. The moated site is
located approximately 1.5km north west of St John the Baptist's Church,
alongside the north western end of what was formerly Shadingfield Common,
enclosed at the beginning of the 19th century. To the north west of the
earthwork there are remains of a medieval settlement and a second moated site
which are the subject of a separate scheduling.

The moat, which is water-filled and approximately 6m wide, extends along the
northern and western sides and around the north eastern and south western
corners of a rectangular central island with internal dimensions of about 90m
WNW-ESE by 75m. It is thought that originally it also enclosed the south
eastern part of the central island, and although this part has been infilled,
it will survive as a buried feature. The eastern end of the northern arm has
been enlarged externally to form a sub-rectangular pond measuring about 24m
east-west by 21m, and at the centre of the moated island is a separate pond
measuring about 22m in length east-west by 6m, although it is depicted on an
early 19th century map as somewhat wider. The western end of this central pond
is linked to the southern arm of the moat by a partly infilled channel, the
southern end of which remains visible as a linear hollow about 3m wide. A
house, considered to be largely 16th century in date, stands on the eastern
side of the central island, and to the south west of this an 18th century
barn. The house, which is a Listed Building Grade II* and the barn, which is a
Listed Building Grade II, are both excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath them is included.

The second, much smaller moat, which is sub-rectangular, with maximum overall
dimensions of about 32m WNW-ESE by 25m, lies approximately 20m to the north of
the northern arm of the first and is connected to it by a partly infilled
channel about 3.5m wide. The north western corner of this moat projects
outward, with an extension about 4m wide running north westwards. The
extension has been largely infilled, although it will survive as a buried
feature, and the site is marked by a slight depression in the ground surface.
The moat surrounds a roughly rectangular central island, raised about 1.2m
above the prevailing ground level and with dimensions of about 12.5m east-west
by 8m, and is identified as the site of a dovecote.

The house and barn, all associated outbuildings, standing walls, concrete
surfaces, modern fence posts and service poles are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath all 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 greater part of the principal moated site at Moat Farm survives well and
the moat and buried deposits on the central island will contain archaeological
information concerning its construction and occupation during the medieval

The associated small moat, considered to be the site of a dovecote, is a good
example of a comparatively rare feature, as the majority of dovecotes are not
known to have been moated. During the medieval period pigeons were a valuable
source of both meat and manure, and the building of large, free standing
dovecotes in order to breed them and ensure a regular supply of these
commodities was originally a privilege confined to the manorial classes.
Surviving examples dating from this period are therefore generally associated
with castles, monasteries, manor houses and manor farms. The majority of those
constructed before 1400 were circular in plan, although rectangular dovecotes
became increasingly common from late medieval times. Buried deposits on the
raised central platform are likely to contain evidence for the date,
construction and use of such a building. Organic materials, including evidence
for the local environment in the past, are also likely to be preserved in
waterlogged deposits which survive in the surrounding moat.

The monument as a whole is situated close to a second moated site and other
earthwork remains which represent elements of a small medieval settlement
clustered around the western end of a green in a manner characteristic of this
part of Suffolk, where dispersed settlements, as opposed to nucleated
villages, are common. As a group they are therefore of particular interest for
the study of the historic pattern of rural settlement in this region.

Source: Historic England


Title: Shadingfield: Tithe Map
Source Date: 1839
Suffolk RO Ref FDA 212/A1/1
Title: Tithe Map: Shadingfield
Source Date: 1839
Suffolk RO ref FDA 212/A/1

Source: Historic England

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