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Moated site and fishponds immediately west of Upper House Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Staunton on Wye, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.101 / 52°6'3"N

Longitude: -2.9183 / 2°55'5"W

OS Eastings: 337193.883496

OS Northings: 245138.017013

OS Grid: SO371451

Mapcode National: GBR F9.9YHK

Mapcode Global: VH77X.CGK7

Entry Name: Moated site and fishponds immediately west of Upper House Farm

Scheduled Date: 2 June 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019476

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28877

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Staunton on Wye

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Staunton-on-Wye

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes a moated site and three associated fishponds near the
crest of a south west sloping ridge above the flood plain of the River Wye.
The site has been surveyed by Herefordshire County Council.
The moated site is situated on the same ridge as the church, equi-distant
between the church and the existing village of Staunton on Wye, being about
0.5km from each. Its association with the fishponds indicates a high status
site, as do documentary sources.
The moated site has a dry moat about 2.5m deep and 10m wide which has become
infilled over time on the west side, but is visible as a shallow depression,
about 0.2m deep. On the east side the moat narrows to about 8m wide and forms
a boundary with the adjoining property. The southern arm of the moat has a low
counterscarp bank on its south side. The platform in the centre of the moat
slopes slightly from east to west and is about 35m east-west by about 25m
north-south. There are no obvious features on the platform, although the
remains of buildings can be expected to survive as buried features. About
10m to the south of the southern arm of the moat, and lying parallel to it, is
a fishpond 12m north-south, 27m east-west and about 0.5m deep. There is a
second pond about 5m to the south east, and a third about 35m to the south
west. The pond to the south east is about 2m deep and 15m east-west by 50m
north-south; the other is aligned north east-south west, and is 15m wide, 30m
long and 0.75m deep.

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.

Despite being partially infilled on the west side, the moated site immediately
west of Upper House Farm survives particularly well and is a good example of
its class. The central platform will contain archaeological features relating
to the construction and occupation of the site, and the moat will contain
archaeological information and environmental evidence in the form of organic
remains relating both to the moated site and the landscape in which it was
A fishpond is an artificially created pool constructed for the purpose of
cultivating, breeding and storing fish to provide a constant supply of food.
Groups of ponds can be found in a line or cluster, and may be of different
sizes for different species or ages of fish. Fishponds were maintained by a
water management system which included inlet and outlet channels, sluices and
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
having particularly large and complex examples. 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 reused 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
cleared. Fishponds were widely scattered throughout England and extended into
Scotland and Wales. The majority are found in central, eastern and southern
parts. 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 and 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 three fishponds immediately west of Upper House Farm are good examples of
their class. Their close grouping and association with the moated site will
produce evidence for the economy of the site and the management of fish
stocks. As with the moat, environmental and organic materials containing
evidence for the site's economy and the local environment will survive.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
O'Donnell, J, 'TWNFC' in Market Centres In Herefordshire 1200-1400, , Vol. XL, (1971), 186-194

Source: Historic England

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