Ancient Monuments

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Moated site 280m south east of Spong Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in North Elmham, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.7322 / 52°43'55"N

Longitude: 0.9392 / 0°56'21"E

OS Eastings: 598549.696889

OS Northings: 318998.389473

OS Grid: TF985189

Mapcode National: GBR S9Y.Q8B

Mapcode Global: WHLRR.DLHB

Entry Name: Moated site 280m south east of Spong Bridge

Scheduled Date: 15 December 1976

Last Amended: 3 September 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020782

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35063

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: North Elmham

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Beetley with East Bilney

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes the remains of a medieval moated site 280m south east of
Spong Bridge, adjacent to the Black Water which supplied water to the moat.
Beetley, a beruite, or little manor, was part of Elmham manor which was held
by William Beaufoe in 1086. In the mid-13th century it was held by Walter,
Bishop of Norwich, and subsequently was granted to Thomas Cromwell. The
Cromwells sold the manor to John Althow at the end of the 16th century and it
was subsequently purchased by Christopher Crow. The site is thought to have
been abandoned by the 17th century.
The moated island is roughly rhomboidal in plan measuring 80m east-west by
42m wide at the east end and 64m in width at the west end. The eastern half of
the island is raised up to 0.5m above the surrounding ground level and 0.4m
above the western portion of the island. The raised platform is thought to
have been occupied by the manor house and limited archaeological excavations
undertaken in 1955 revealed building foundations. The investigations also
retrieved pottery dating to the 13th and 14th century. At the south west
corner of the island is a sub-rectangular hollow, believed to be a fishpond,
measuring 20m north-south by 8m and 1.5m deep. The island is surrounded by a
partly water-filled moat measuring up to 10m in width and open to a depth
of 1.5m. A low external bank measuring approximately 1m in width lies along
part of the west arm of the moat. Two shallow channels leading eastward from
the north east corner and east arm of the moat represent part of the former
water management system. The ends of the channels adjoining the moat are
included in the scheduling.
All fence posts and telegraph poles are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them 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 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 food supply. Groups of up to twelve ponds
variously arranged in a single line or in a cluster joined by leats have been
recorded. Fishponds were maintained by a water management system which
included inlet and outlet channels. The tradition of constructing and using
fishponds in England began during the medieval period and peaked in the 12th
century and they were largely built by the wealthy sectors of society.

The moated site 280m east of Spong Bridge survives well as a series of
earthwork and buried deposits not known to have been disturbed by post-
medieval occupation. The buried remains will include archaeological
information concerning the construction of the moat, the layout and
construction of the buildings which stood on the platform and activities
relating to their occupation. Water-logged deposits in the moat will preserve
organic remains (such as timber, leather and seeds) which will give an
insight into domestic and economic activity on the site and the local
environment in the past. Evidence for earlier land use, predating the
construction of the moat, is also likely to be preserved in soils buried
beneath the artificially raised ground. The limited archaeological excavation
has confirmed the survival of building remains and archaeological deposits
and contributed to the understanding of the site.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of Norfolk , (1808)
Brown, P (ed), Doomsday Book: Norfolk, (1984)
Wade-Martins, P, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in Village sites in Launditch hundred, Norfolk, , Vol. 10, (1980), 17-18
NMR, 358674, (2002)
Norfolk SMR, NF2785, (2001)

Source: Historic England

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