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Moated site and associated fishponds 160m east of Little Sarnesfield

A Scheduled Monument in Dilwyn, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.1639 / 52°9'50"N

Longitude: -2.8962 / 2°53'46"W

OS Eastings: 338794.319967

OS Northings: 252120.365894

OS Grid: SO387521

Mapcode National: GBR FB.5XXM

Mapcode Global: VH77J.RV7Z

Entry Name: Moated site and associated fishponds 160m east of Little Sarnesfield

Scheduled Date: 9 March 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019856

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31971

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Dilwyn

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Weobley

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the medieval moated
site, adjacent fishponds and water control features, 160m east of Little
Sarnesfield. The site is situated on the side of a low hill at the point where
the slope begins to rise steeply.
The moated site is square, and one rectangular and two square fishponds lie
adjacent to the east with a spring and inlet leat to the west. There are the
earthwork remains of a boundary bank and ditch and of a former trackway to the
north west. These features are not included in the scheduling.
The northern, southern, and western arms of the moat measure approximately 8m
wide by up to 2m deep widening slightly in the south west corner. The eastern
arm measures approximately 6m wide. Both the southern and eastern arms are
retained by dams which measure between 6m and 10m wide by up to 1.5m high. The
moat is fed by the spring to the west and both the moat and the adjacent ponds
are waterlogged. Access to the island, which measures approximately 25sq m, is
gained via a causeway situated midway along the northern arm. Stone rubble is
visible in the banks of the island and in the causeway.
Immediately east of the moat is the rectangular fishpond which measures
approximately 25m north to south by 12m east to west. It is retained by banks
to the east, west and south, that to the west also defining the moat. The
southern dam, which measures approximately 10m wide by up to 1.5m high, is an
extension of the dam retaining the southern arm of the moat although a breach,
3m to 5m wide, exists immediately to the south of the eastern arm of the moat.
The eastern retaining dam of this pond measures up to 5m wide by up to 1.5m
high and runs for approximately 40m from north to south forming the western
retaining dam of the two ponds immediately adjacent to the east. An east to
west projection from this dam, circa 10m long, forms a division between the
nortern and the southern of these two ponds, leaving a leat 4m wide connecting
the two. The northernmost of these two ponds is cut into the slope of the hill
for some distance and measures approximately 9m north to south by 15m east to
west. The southern pond measures approximately 20m north to south by 15m east
to west.
The spring, which rises approximately 20m west of the north west corner of the
moat, feeds the moat through a leat which may have been larger in the past.
A series of earthworks immediately to the west of the moat and south of the
spring, are believed to represent former water control features and are
included in the scheduling.
Further earthworks to the north of the site are believed to represent the
remains of a former road/trackway, possibly connected with the moated site,
and also the remains of a hollow way or boundary ditch. These earthworks are
not included in the scheduling.
All modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath
it 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. Fishponds were maintained by a water
management system which included inlet and outlet channels carrying water from
a river or stream. 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. 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 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. 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 moated site 160m east of Little Sarnesfield survives as a well-preserved
example of a medieval moat with an associated fishpond complex.
The island is expected to preserve evidence of former structures, including
both domestic and ancillary buildings as well as their associated occupation
levels. These remains will illustrate the nature of the site's use, the
lifestyle of its inhabitants and facilitate dating of the construction and
subsequent periods of use of the moat.
The moat will be expected to preserve earlier deposits including evidence of
its construction and any alterations during its active history. The
waterlogged nature of the moat and fishponds will preserve environmental
information such as pollen and seeds which will provide information about the
ecosystem and landscape in which it was set.

Source: Historic England


RCHM, Herefordshire, RCHM, RCHM, Herefordshire, (1934)

Source: Historic England

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