Ancient Monuments

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Moated site in Mathams Wood

A Scheduled Monument in High Wych, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8418 / 51°50'30"N

Longitude: 0.1224 / 0°7'20"E

OS Eastings: 546312.155238

OS Northings: 218037.125839

OS Grid: TL463180

Mapcode National: GBR LCR.FSP

Mapcode Global: VHHLV.2YLZ

Entry Name: Moated site in Mathams Wood

Scheduled Date: 24 February 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020979

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32452

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: High Wych

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Sawbridgeworth

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes a medieval moated site located some 600m north east of
Blounts's Farm, within the south east corner of an ancient semi-natural
woodland known as Mathams Wood, which itself lies within the perimeter of the
former World War II airfield known as RAF Sawbridgeworth.

The moated island is rectangular, measuring approximately 100m by 75m, with
the long axis aligned north east to south west. The island is enclosed on
three sides by a clearly defined dry moat averaging 1.5m in depth and 8m in
width. The south western arm of the moat is mostly infilled, partly as a
result of the construction of the airfield perimeter road - the surface of
which has since been removed. The full circuit of the moat is, however,
depicted on early Ordnance Survey maps and the line of the buried south
eastern arm can still be detected as a slight declivity on the ground.

The island, which would have served as the location for a dwelling and various
ancillary buildings, is slightly raised above the level of its immediate
surroundings, doubtless using material dug from the moat. A gap or causeway
left during construction of the south eastern arm of the moat is thought to
have provided the original access to the island. A second causeway has been
added near the north west corner in recent years.

The moated site is identifed with `Mathamesmaner' (the manor of the de Matham
family) which was recorded in the hands of John de Matham and subsequently
Geoffrey de Matham in the Assize Rolls of 1248 and 1249. The de Mathams held
the property well into the 17th century, when it descended with the Sayesbury
and Pisiobury manors.

The modern causeway, fences, fence posts and all modern structures relating to
the pheasantry are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
these items 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.

The moated site in Mathams Wood survives well. The inner platform remains
largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for the sequence of
medieval and post-medieval manor houses known to have existed on the site. The
buried silts in the ditches will contain both artefacts relating to the period
of occupation and environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape
in which the moated site was set.

Matham's Wood moat lies in an area where moated sites are comparatively
numerous. Comparisons between these sites and others in the country will
provide valuable insights into the development of medieval society in England.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire, (1910), 203
Sanderson, L M, The Victoria History of the County of Hertfordshire: Volume III, (1912), 340
18.5.48, RAF, RAF 58/36 Pt.I/5126, (1948)
In Herts. SMR, HCC, Matham's Wood, High Wych, TL 463 180, (1996)
In Herts. SMR, HCC, Moat at Matham's Wood, High Wych, (1996)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 6"
Source Date: 1879
XXII-III, XXX-I 1879-84
Title: Sawbridgeworth Tithe Award and Map
Source Date: 1842
DSA 4 93/1-2 1842 and 1839

Source: Historic England

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