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Moated site and associated earthworks 200m south west of St Nicholas's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Dersingham, Norfolk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.8428 / 52°50'34"N

Longitude: 0.5109 / 0°30'39"E

OS Eastings: 569203.347502

OS Northings: 330205.846074

OS Grid: TF692302

Mapcode National: GBR P41.PZN

Mapcode Global: WHKPT.TTG0

Entry Name: Moated site and associated earthworks 200m south west of St Nicholas's Church

Scheduled Date: 12 March 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020823

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30617

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Dersingham

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Dersingham St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Norwich

Details

The monument includes a moated site, identified as the site of a medieval
manor, with adjoining earthworks which define associated gardens and yards.
The moated site is situated on the west side of Dersingham village, close to
the parish church, which was one of the centres of medieval village life.

At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, Dersingham was already a large and
populous village with at least three holdings identified as `manors'. There
were two tenants in chief; Eudo son of Sperwic, under whom a freeman, Ricwald
held one of the manors, and Peter de Valognes, who had the other two manors,
together with lands held under him by 24 freemen. The 18th century historian,
Blomefield, lists a total of 7 medieval manors in Dersingham, but the central
location of the moated site, near the church, suggests that it was perhaps the
site of the principal manor, named Pakenham Hall manor after a family who
acquired it by marriage in the 14th century. Approximately 350m to the north
east of it there are slight remains of what was probably a second moat marking
the site of another manor known as Snaringhall. This second moated site is not
included in the scheduling.

The moat near the church ranges from 8m to 12m in width and is open to a depth
of around 1m, with steeply sloping sides and a flat bottom. It surrounds a
central platform which, in plan, forms a squat `L' shape, indented at the
north east corner, with maximum dimensions of 67m ENE-WSW by 52m. At the north
west, south west and south east corners the surface of this platform is
mounded about 0.5m above the surface of the interior, and these mounds perhaps
mark the sites of buildings in the angles of a courtyard around the manor
house. The northern arm of the moat is crossed by a modern causeway
constructed of brick rubble, but the original access was probably by means of
a bridge.

A stream enters the eastern arm of the moat near its southern end and flows
through a channel cut into the lower fill of the southern arm to join a second
stream which issues from a culvert to the north to flow through the western
arm. It is possible that the streams were channelled in this way as part of a
post medieval water management system. Approximately 50m to the east of the
eastern arm of the moat, below the point where the east-west stream issues
from a culvert beneath Manor Road, are the remains of a 19th century brick dam
and sluice, and about 8m to the south west of this are the remains of a sheep
dip of similar date. A linear hollow which enters the south western corner of
the moat from the east is probably the remains of an earlier leat bringing
water to the moat.

The western arm of the moat is bordered by an external bank up to 0.7m high
and 3m wide across the top, with a parallel ditch, visible as a slight linear
hollow, beyond it. From the southern end of these features another bank, up to
1m high and 6m broad across the top with a ditch along the north side, extends
north westwards so as to define part of a rectilinear enclosure. This
enclosure is truncated diagonally by a modern field boundary to the north, but
measures at least 90m south east-north west by 68m. A bank approximately 0.5m
high borders the inner edge of the ditch on the east side of this enclosure
and the eastern half of the ditch on the south side, then turns north
eastwards to form an inner enclosure measuring approximately 46m south
east-north west. The banks have the appearance of garden earthworks, although
they may have had a more utilitarian function. Adjoining these enclosures on
the south side is another, bounded on the west and south sides by the stream
issuing from the south west corner of the moat and subdivided by a slight, but
well defined north-south ditch.

Along the outer edge of the southern arm of the moat is a broad, south facing
terraced bank, and below this, to the south and south east, is a platform up
to 20m wide north-south, defined on the west side by a scarp up to 1m high and
on the north and south sides by shallow ditches. The lower lying area to the
south of the platform is bounded on the west side by the slight remains of a
ditch, to the east of which is a series of north-south ridges, narrower and
more closely spaced to the west and broader to the east. These have been
truncated by the levelling of a playing field to the south, but are shown on
aerial photographs taken in the 1940s and 1960s to have been within a ditched
enclosure of about 0.6ha. This was probably an area of cultivation, possibly
an orchard, with the ground ridged to provide drainage.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all modern
fences, gates and stiles, modern culverts, and the modern causeways across
the northern arm of the moat and across the stream to the south of the moat.
The ground beneath these features is, however, included.

MAP EXTRACT
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.

The moated site 200m south west of St Nicholas's Church is a good example of a
medieval moated manor which, with the church and at least one other manorial
site, formed the nucleus of the medieval village. The central platform
remains undisturbed by later occupation, and the moat and surrounding
earthworks survive well. The earthworks and associated buried deposits will
retain much archaeological information about the original construction and
subsequent occupation of the manor and the lives of its inhabitants,
illustrating the social and economic role of the manor within the medieval
community. It is likely, also, that organic materials, including artefacts and
evidence for the local environment in the past, will be preserved in
waterlogged deposits in the lower fill of the moat.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
OS, TF6930/K (Copy at Norfolk Landscape Archaeology), (1967)
RAF, RAF TF63/TF6931/A, (1946)
Title: Tithe Map of Dersingham
Source Date: 1840
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:
NRO Ref. DN/TA 274

Source: Historic England

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