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Moat House moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Weston Colville, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.1547 / 52°9'17"N

Longitude: 0.3686 / 0°22'6"E

OS Eastings: 562133.978915

OS Northings: 253361.772243

OS Grid: TL621533

Mapcode National: GBR NBV.XP7

Mapcode Global: VHJH2.B3QJ

Entry Name: Moat House moated site

Scheduled Date: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019174

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33267

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Weston Colville

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Weston Colville St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes a medieval moated site and associated fishpond at Moat
House, located immediately to the west of Great Coven's Wood and approximately
460m to the north east of the village of Weston Colville.

The moated site includes a roughly square shaped island which measures up to
76m north east- south west by 72m north west-south east. This is enclosed by a
seasonally water-filled moat measuring up to 14m wide and at least 2m deep.
Outer banks, thought to represent upcast from the construction of the moat,
are visible along the south eastern and south western arms, measuring up to
13m wide and 2m high and 7m wide and 1.2m high respectively. There are now two
causeways across the moat; that on the north western side is known to have
been in use before 1828 and may represent the original access to the island,
whilst that on the south east arm is believed to be modern. Approximately 10m
from the southern corner of the moated site is a linear pond measuring 22m in
length by approximately 6m wide, following the same alignment as the south
east arm of the moat. This is believed to be a fishpond contemporary with the
moated site.

The moat is thought to represent the original site of Colville Manor, named
after William de Colville, who became the holder when he married Beatrice de
Stutville in 1200; the manor had first been subinfeudated to the Stutvilles in
about 1150. The manor remained in the Colville family until 1369. By 1560 the
moated site was no longer the site of Colville Manor, which by 1612 had been
replaced by a house to the south west on the site of the present Weston
Colville Hall. The present Moat House, which now occupies the moated site,
dates from the 19th century.

Partial excavations carried out on the island in 1991 and 1993 uncovered a
series of internal ditches dated to the 14th/15th centuries. Buried building
remains have also been identified.

Moat House, the garage and stable block, together with all fencing, walls,
the patio and the oil tank are all excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath 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 moated site at Moat House survives well in the form of earthworks and
buried deposits. The island remains largely undisturbed and will retain buried
evidence for structures and other features relating to the development and
character of the site throughout the medieval period. 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 moated site was set.

Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow moving freshwater 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 an important source of information
concerning the economy of various classes of medieval settlements and
institutions. The fishpond to the south west of the moated site forms an
integral part of the medieval manorial complex and provides further evidence
for its economy and status.

Comparisons between Moat House moated site and further examples, both locally
and more widely, will provide valuable insights into settlement developments
in medieval England.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Salzman, L F, The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely, (1978), 183-185
CRO: 124 P83a, John Hall Esq. Estate at Weston Colville, (1828)
CRO: 124/P83a, John Hall Estate at Weston Colville, (1828)
SMR, Cambridgeshire Archaeology Unit, An Arch. Evaluation at Moat House, Weston Colville, Cambs., (1993)

Source: Historic England

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