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Moated site and associated earthworks at Shernborne Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Shernborne, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.8602 / 52°51'36"N

Longitude: 0.5321 / 0°31'55"E

OS Eastings: 570566.887054

OS Northings: 332191.886392

OS Grid: TF705321

Mapcode National: GBR P3W.PCJ

Mapcode Global: WHKPV.4CNN

Entry Name: Moated site and associated earthworks at Shernborne Hall

Scheduled Date: 12 March 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020824

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30618

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Shernborne

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Ingoldisthorpe St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes a medieval moated site with associated fishponds and
other earthworks situated in the valley of the River Ingol, to the south of
the river and on the boundary between the parishes of Shernborne and
Ingoldisthorpe. The site is that of a manor held by the Shernbornes, a family
recorded from the early 13th century until it died out in the 17th century.
At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 the land in Shernborne was held by
several different tenants in chief, but much of it came eventually to be
combined in one lordship.

The moat surrounds three sides of a sub-rectangular central island measuring
approximately 95m east-west by 55m. The southern arm has been infilled and
the eastern half of it built over, but the line of the western half is still
marked by a depression about 0.5m deep and 12m wide. The parts which remain
open range from 5m to around 12m in width and are water-filled, fed by a leat
which leads from the river upstream into the eastern end of the northern arm.
An outlet channel with a sluice about 30m to the west of this carries water
back from the northern arm to the river. A part of the western arm has been
widened outward to create what was probably a horse pond.

The present Shernborne Hall occupies the centre of the island. The eastern
part of it dates from the 18th century, with 19th century additions, but a
wing at the western end is dated to the 16th century and was originally the
east wing of a larger house which was probably of open `E' plan, with a
central block and entrance facing south and a corresponding west wing. Blocked
door openings which gave access to the central block at ground and first floor
level can be seen at the north end of the west wall of the surviving wing,
together with various blocked window openings. This wing appears to have been
longer originally, extending further north, and was probably shortened when
the central block and west wing were demolished. Remains of the demolished
parts, in the form of foundations or foundation trenches, will survive below
the ground surface and are included in the scheduling. Access was from the
Shernborne Road to the south, probably across a causeway which carries the
modern driveway.

The supply leat to the moat also fed two sub-rectangular fishponds, connected
to it by short channels which probably contained sluices to allow the ponds to
be filled and emptied. The first of these ponds, approximately 12m to the east
of the eastern arm of the moat, measured approximately 27.5m north west-south
east by 11m. This has now been infilled but will survive as a buried feature
and is included in the scheduling. The second pond is about 10m to the east
of this and parallel to it, measuring about 19m by 9m.

Earthworks to the west of the entrance causeway and south and south west of
the moat are thought to mark the remains of buildings and other features in an
outer courtyard. The principal feature is an earthen platform up to 0.6m in
height and about 45m in length by 11m, situated about 40m west of the causeway
and roughly parallel to it. The surface of this platform is uneven, and it is
likely that it supported buildings, such as stables. From the southern end of
this feature a low bank with a wet ditch to the south extends westwards,
parallel to the road, for a distance of about 50m. The area to the north of
this bank and west of the platform is low lying and damp, but it is possible
that it was better drained in the past and contained other buildings. The
remains of a probable drainage ditch leading from the southern end of the
roadside bank south eastwards to the western arm of the moat can be seen as a
linear depression about 0.3m deep and 3m wide. Parallel to this, about 14m to
the west, is a much larger drainage channel with the remains of a bank along
the eastern side. This is seasonally wet, fed by springs to the south, and
issues into a drain which runs north westwards to the river. The western bank
of the channel is a steep scarp about 1.2m high, and the higher ground to the
west is divided into at least five rectangular and sub rectangular enclosures
by the remains of intersecting ditches, visible as linear depressions
approximately 3m wide and between 0.3m and 0.5m deep. These enclosures, with
dimensions of from 120m to 130m in length by 36m to 52m in width, were
probably paddocks and orchards relating to the manor. The area is bounded on
the west side by a well-defined earthen bank aligned SSW-NNE, parallel to a
modern field boundary to the west. The area between the bank and the field
boundary was probably a trackway.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the standing
parts of Shernborne Hall with associated outbuildings, garden walls, two
greenhouses, garden sheds, trellises and other garden furniture, modern paving
and the surfaces of modern paths and driveways, inspection chambers, a
lamp post, service poles, footbridges across the northern arm of the moat and
the leat to the east of the moat, and all modern fences and gates. The ground
beneath all these features is, however, 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.

The greater part of the moated site at Shernborne Hall survives well, despite
some modern disturbance, and the adjacent earthworks, which are known or
believed to relate to the manorial site, give the monument additional
interest. The earthworks and associated buried remains will retain much
archaeological information concerning the construction and subsequent
occupation of the moated site, the domestic economy of the manor and the lives
of its inhabitants. Organic materials, including artefacts and evidence for
the local environment in the past, are likely to be preserved in waterlogged
deposits in the lower fills of the moat, fishponds and other features. The
character of the moat is consistent with a medieval origin, and it is probable
that evidence for medieval buildings will be preserved in buried deposits on
the central island, in addition to the remains of the demolished parts of the
later 16th century house.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Blomefield, F, Essay Towards a Topographical History of Norfolk Volume 10, (1809), 350-361

Source: Historic England

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