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Moat House moated site and an associated fishpond

A Scheduled Monument in Longnor, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.5975 / 52°35'50"N

Longitude: -2.7492 / 2°44'57"W

OS Eastings: 349347.381813

OS Northings: 300229.60887

OS Grid: SJ493002

Mapcode National: GBR BJ.9HVM

Mapcode Global: WH8C6.RZ12

Entry Name: Moat House moated site and an associated fishpond

Scheduled Date: 18 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019206

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33809

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Longnor

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Longnor

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval moated
site and an associated fishpond on the south eastern outskirts of Longnor. The
moat surrounds Moat House, a Listed Building Grade II*. A documentary source
suggests that the moated site was constructed in the early 13th century when
Roger Spuncheaux had timber to fortify his house at Longenaire (Longnor).
Between 1291 and 1298 the tenants, Richard and Emma Clerk, were given licence
by the lord of the manor of Longnor to widen the moat by 12 feet. Structural
timbers from Moat House have been dated by dendrochronology (the technique of
dating using tree growth rings) and indicate that the house was constructed
about 1467. It is thought that the house was built by Thomas Acton, a leading
Shropshire lawyer, who died in 1480. The house originally consisted of a hall,
open to the roof, with service rooms to the north and probably other chambers,
including a withdrawing room (a solar), to the south. In 1370 Sir Edward Acton
was granted a licence for a private oratory (a chapel) at Longnor. The house
would have formed the centre of a group of buildings arranged around a
courtyard. It is suggested that the area to the west of the house, where
building debris is known to exist, was the site of a detached kitchen. A
licence for the demolition of such a building was granted in 1646. In the late
16th century the house was substantially altered and early in the following
century it was used as a farmhouse. It was converted into two farm cottages in
the 19th century and restored as a single dwelling in the late 20th century.
The moated site occupies a low-lying position on a gentle south east facing
slope with extensive views of the surrounding uplands. The moat retains
water with the exception of the north western part of its circuit, and defines
a subtectangular island 60m east-west by 85m north-south (maximum dimensions).
The arms of the moat are between 8m and 12m wide, except to the south west
where the arm extends slightly inwards. Material excavated from the moat has
been used to raise the south eastern part of the island in order to create a
level platform. The earliest large scale Ordnance Survey map (published in
1882) shows three entrance causeways across the moat. The only one to remain
extant is that to the west. The same map also shows two buildings which were
subsequently demolished - a stone barn in the middle of the southern portion
of the island and a timber framed structure next to the western moat arm to
the south of the causeway. Earthworks survive to indicate the building
platform for the barn, together with two boulders marking the position of part
of the north wall. These boulders are included in the scheduling. The location
of the demolished structure next to the moat is marked by four stone post
pads, which originally supported load bearing timber uprights, and stone wall
foundations along its western side. The post pads and stone wall foundations
are also included in the scheduling. Further earthworks on the southern half
of the island are considered to mark the position of other buildings.
The site was the subject of an archaeological investigation in 1958 when
exploratory trenches were dug. In the trench excavated on the northern side of
the island next to the moat the remains of a stone bank were found. Trenches
were dug in the north western corner of the island and in one a cobbled
surface was discovered. A trench was also dug close to the entrance causeway
which crosses the western moat arm. Here the initial silt deposits contained
pieces of waterlogged wood, all adze cut, which probably came from the
construction of a bridge or a palisade. Later silt deposits were sealed below
a layer of boulder clay, deposited during the 19th century. Further
archaeological investigations were conducted in 1987 and 1988 around Moat
House, prior to the erection of an extension to the southern end of the house.
A geophysical survey, used to locate buried structural features, together with
limited excavation, demonstrated the survival of well-preserved structural
remains and associated deposits dating from the medieval period onwards.
On the eastern side of the moated site there is a subrectangular water-filled
fishpond about 30m wide and 80m long (maximum dimensions). Its size suggests
that it was used for storing fish rather than for breeding them, in order to
supply markets nearby and for local consumption. The ground that separates the
moated site from the fishpond is between 6m and 9m wide and has been raised by
up to 0.8m above the level of the surrounding ground to form a level platform.
The fishpond is included in the scheduling to preserve the relationship
between it and the moated site.
Moat House and the adjoining garage, fences and associated gates, the
surface of the modern driveway, the former pig sty and associated stone-built
walls, the former brick-built latrine, the greenhouse, the stone abutments of
the timber footbridge across the moat, all oramental garden features and
utility poles are excluded from the scheduling; the ground beneath all these
features is, however, 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.

Moat House moated site is a well-preserved example of this class of
monument encompassing an upstanding late medieval hall house. This structure,
together with the related documentary sources and buried remains, provide
valuable insights into the development and use of the site. The documentary
sources also provide important information about the establishment of the site
and its changing ownership during the medieval and post-medieval periods. The
archaeological investigations of the site were small scale, but have helped to
demonstrate the nature, extent and date of the buried structural features
existing on the moated island and the deposits within the moat. These remains
together with the artefacts and organic remains surviving on the island and in
the moat will provide additional evidence about the occupation and social
status of the inhabitants. Organic remains surviving in the buried ground
surface under the raised portion of the island and within the moat will also
provide information about the changes to the local environment and the use of
the land before and after the moated site was constructed.
Fishponds were constructed throughout the medieval period with many dating to
the 12th century. The association of the moated site with this pond provides
further evidence about the economy and life style of the occupants of the site
during the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hislop, M, Horton, M, The Moat House, Longnor, Shropshire. Archaeological Evaluation, (1987)
Richards, C P, Richards, M, Moat House, Longnor, Shropshire, (1991)
'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Britain in 1958, , Vol. 3, (1959), 317
Hislop, M et al, 'Research Paper Number 51' in The Moat House, Longnor, Shropshire. A watching brief, (1990)
County Series map 1:2500 scale, (1882)
Forest Perambulation - dated 1235, Hewitt, P, Longnor Moat House - notes for Shropshire VCH Vol 5,

Source: Historic England

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