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Moated complex 260m north west of Fryers Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Harlton, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.158 / 52°9'28"N

Longitude: 0.0228 / 0°1'22"E

OS Eastings: 538470.495579

OS Northings: 253010.080138

OS Grid: TL384530

Mapcode National: GBR L7R.LM5

Mapcode Global: VHHKF.B1X0

Entry Name: Moated complex 260m north west of Fryers Cottage

Scheduled Date: 9 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019179

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33277

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Harlton

Built-Up Area: Harlton

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Harlton Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes a group of three moated sites with associated fishponds
and water control features occupying an area bounded to the west by a stream
and to the east by a dried-out stream bed. The moated complex is located 260m
to the north west of Fryers Cottage, 500m to the north west of the parish
church of Harlton.

The southernmost moated site incorporates two sub-rectangular islands
separated by an intervening arm of the moat. The eastern island, the largest
of the two, measures up to 43m east-west by 38m north-south and the
western island measures approximately 30m north-south by 25m east-west. The
two islands are enclosed by a partly infilled moat, now visible as a series
of shallow depressions up to 8m wide and 0.6m deep on all but the western
side, where it is bounded by a north flowing stream. An outer bank, thought to
represent upcast from the moat, is visible along the northern edge of the
eastern island. The northern arm of the moat continues in an easterly
direction for a further 25m before connecting with the dried up stream
bordering the eastern side of the monument. A shallow moat and associated
bank, approximately 20m to the south of and parallel with this northern
extension, also runs from the east arm of the moat to the stream bed thus
defining a small enclosure. The moated site may represent the site of one or
more buildings associated with the main central moated enclosure 100m to the

The main central moated enclosure consists of an island measuring
approximately 36m north-south by 28m east-west which is enclosed by a partly
water-filled moat on the north, south and west sides. The moat measures 0.7m
deep by 9m wide. On the eastern side the stream bed bounds the island serving
to complete the circuit of the moat. Tile, bone and oyster shell, together
with a 17th century potsherd have been retrieved by partial archaeological
excavation. The central moated enclosure is thought to have been the site of
the manor house in the 16th or 17th century and may mark the site of an
earlier medieval manor house, perhaps from the 13th century.

The northernmost moated site is smaller with an island measuring 11m square.
It is thought to represent the site of a dovecote or lodge associated with the
manor house. The enclosing moat, which has been partly infilled, measures a
maximum of 6.5m wide and 0.5m deep. The northern arm of the moat links up with
the stream bed to the east and continues westwards for a further 30m. A bank,
thought to represent upcast from the northern arm, runs immediately to the

Extending southwards from the northern moat and linked to it by a leat, are
two interconnecting north east-south west aligned fishponds. These fishponds
have been partly infilled and are now visible as shallow depressions
approximately 0.5m deep, 27m and 22m long respectively and between 4.5m and 8m
wide. A series of interconnecting channels and water control features connect
the fishponds with the central moated enclosure, the northern moated enclosure
and the western stream. An L-shaped bank lies north of the northern moated

The moated complex may represent the site of the manor of Huntingfield (later
known as Harlton), which was partly owned by Walter Gifford at Domesday.
Before 1166 the manor had been acquired by William de Huntingfield and
descended with the main line of his family until 1313. In 1388 the manor was
in the same ownership as the manor of Ludes and by 1448 this manor, known by
then as the manor of Harlton, may have been enlarged to include Rotses and
Butlers manors. There was a large demesne farm held by the lady of the manor
in 1524. The manor house was deserted in 1587 and a new farmhouse was built.
This was bought by Thomas Fryer in 1608 and continued in his family until 1677
when it is recorded as being `conveyed to Christ's Hospital'. The moated
complex, which is believed to have been occupied from the 13th century,
developed in the 16th or 17th century into a series of gardens and pools
surrounding a house occupying the central moat. The complex was deserted by
the 17th century when Manor Farm was built approximately 400m to the south
east of the moated complex, towards the west end of Harlton village.

All fences, gates and horse jumps 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.

A fishpond is an artificially created pool of slow moving freshwater
constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to
provide a constant and sustainable supply of food. They may be dug into the
ground, embanked above ground level, or formed by placing a dam across a
narrow valley. Groups of up to twelve ponds variously arranged in a single
line or in a cluster and joined by leats have been recorded. The ponds may be
of the same size or of several different sizes with each pond being stocked
with different species or ages of fish. The size of the pond was related to
function, with large ponds thought to have a storage capability whilst
smaller, shallower ponds were used for fish cultivation and breeding.
Fishponds were maintained by a water management system which included inlet
and outlet channels carrying water from a river or stream, a series of sluices
set into the bottom of the dam and along the channels and leats, and an
overflow leat which controlled fluctuations in water flow and prevented

Buildings for use by fishermen or for the storage of equipment, and islands
possibly used for fishing, wildfowl management or as shallow spawning areas,
are also recorded.

The tradition of constructing and using fishponds in England began during the
medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. They were largely built by the
wealthy sectors of society with monastic institutions and royal residences
often having large and complex fishponds. The difficulties of obtaining fresh
meat in the winter and the value placed on fish as a food source and for
status may have been factors which favoured the development of fishponds and
which made them so valuable. The practice of constructing fishponds declined
after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century although in some
areas it continued into the 17th century. Most fishponds fell out of use
during the post-medieval period although some were re-used as ornamental
features in 19th and early 20th century landscape parks or gardens, or as
watercress beds.

Documentary sources provide a wealth of information about the way fishponds
were stocked and managed. The main species of fish kept were eel, tench,
pickerel, bream, perch, and roach. Large quantities of fish could be supplied
at a time. Once a year, probably in the spring, ponds were drained and

Fishponds are widely scattered throughout England and extend into Scotland and
Wales. The majority are found in central, eastern and southern parts and in
areas with heavy clay soils. Fewer fishponds are found in coastal areas and
parts of the country rich in natural lakes and streams where other sources of
fresh fish were available. Although 17th century manuals suggest that areas of
waste ground were suitable for fishponds, in practice it appears that most
fishponds were located close to villages, manors or monasteries or within
parks so that a watch could be kept on them to prevent poaching. Although
approximately 2000 examples are recorded nationally, this is thought to be
only a small proportion of those in existence in medieval times. Despite being
relatively common, fishponds are important for their associations with other
classes of medieval monument and in providing evidence of site economy.

The elaborate moated complex 260m north west of Fryers Cottage survives
very well and reflects the wealth and social standing of its inhabitants. The
islands are largely undisturbed by post-medieval and modern activity and will
retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to the
development and character of the site throughout its periods of occupation.
Ditches and ponds will retain detailed evidence for the water management
system and the buried silts in their bases 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.

Although partly infilled the fishponds will retain buried evidence for the
sluices and dams used to regulate the water supply and manage the stock.

Comparative studies between this site and with further examples, both locally
and more widely, will provide valuable insights into the development of
settlement in medieval England.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire214-222
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire214-222
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire214-222
RCHM: West Cambs, (1968)
Title: 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map
Source Date: 1886
Title: Enclosure map of Harlton
Source Date: 1808
CRO: P84/26

Source: Historic England

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