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Drakelow Hall moated site, fishponds and moated enclosure

A Scheduled Monument in Byley, Cheshire West and Chester

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Latitude: 53.2276 / 53°13'39"N

Longitude: -2.4443 / 2°26'39"W

OS Eastings: 370432.516471

OS Northings: 370151.572026

OS Grid: SJ704701

Mapcode National: GBR 7X.0LRH

Mapcode Global: WH99L.F48H

Entry Name: Drakelow Hall moated site, fishponds and moated enclosure

Scheduled Date: 16 February 1982

Last Amended: 9 April 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020100

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13441

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Byley

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Byley-cum-Less St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Chester


The monument at Drakelow Hall comprises a well-preserved moated site with four
adjacent fishponds and a rectangular moated enclosure.
The site consists of a grass covered island approximately 55m square, the
surface of which exhibits slight ridge and furrow, surrounded by a moat 5m
wide by 1.7m deep that is waterlogged for much of its circumference. An outer
bank exists adjacent to the north west and south west arms of the moat. To the
north west is a linear set of fishponds connected by a dry channel. A single
fishpond lies further west. A low causeway runs between the linear fishponds
and leads to the outer edge of the moat where it becomes a raised bank from
where a bridge or drawbridge would have given access onto the island. Another
single fishpond lies close to the moat's north eastern arm and connects by a
short dry channel to a dry field ditch running north west-south east from the
southern corner of a trapezoidal field south of Drakelow Hall Farm. An `L'-
shaped dry outlet channel issues from the largest fishpond and connects
with this dry field ditch, in the process of which it forms the south west and
south east arms of a grass-covered moated enclosure of approximately 40m by
The site was an important Royal demesne manor and sanctuary and was mentioned
in a letter of 1355 to the Justiciar of Chester.
Most moats were constructed between 1250-1350 and are generally seen as an
indication of the prestigious residences of the Lords of the manor. The moat
in such circumstances marked the high status of the owner, but also served to
deter casual raiders and wild animals.
All field boundaries are 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 seigniorial 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.
Drakelow Hall moated site, fishponds and moated enclosure is a rare example in
Cheshire of an important medieval Royal demense manor and sanctuary. It is
mentioned in a letter to the Justiciar of Chester in the mid-14th century and
survives as a well-preserved earthwork unencumbered by modern building. The
complexity of surviving remains, including the main moated site, the linear
set of fishponds and the two single fishponds, the system of connecting water
channels and the moated enclosure, is of particular note.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Booth, P H, 'J Chester A S' in Farming For Profit in the 14th Century, , Vol. 62, (1979)
Capstick, B, FMW Report : Drakelow Hall moated site, (1986)
Cheshire SMR No 807/1/1,
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Moats, (1988)
Dennison, E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Fishponds, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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