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Two moated sites, the site of a dovecote and further associated features 120m north west and 180m north of The Old Hall

A Scheduled Monument in East Layton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4852 / 54°29'6"N

Longitude: -1.7482 / 1°44'53"W

OS Eastings: 416412.105111

OS Northings: 510008.389932

OS Grid: NZ164100

Mapcode National: GBR JJ7K.BZ

Mapcode Global: WHC60.3JTG

Entry Name: Two moated sites, the site of a dovecote and further associated features 120m north west and 180m north of The Old Hall

Scheduled Date: 11 August 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021039

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35479

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: East Layton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Forcett with Aldborough and Melsonby

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes extensive earthwork and buried remains of two moated
sites, a dovecote and associated features including a range of building
platforms and enclosures. The monument is divided into two separate areas
of protection. One of the areas,which includes one of the moated sites and
the dovecote, occupies the whole of a field called Ashes. The other area
occupies the northern part of the field to the east and the enclosed area
to the north of this in which the second moated site is located. The
monument lies on the north facing slope and level ground to the north of a
low ridge which extends east to west on the southern side of lower

The moated site in the Ashes field is thought to date from between the
12th to 14th centuries and was the site of a high status manorial
residence of a prestigious family. The size, complexity and range of
features surviving throughout the field indicate that this moated site
included a number of ancillary features to support the wider economic and
social functions of the complex. In addition to the dovecote these would
have included stables, workshops, stores and gardens both for pleasure and
for horticulture providing produce for consumption by the household.

The second moated site to the north east is thought to have been
constructed later. It is not clear whether this moated site also supported
a dwelling and it is possible that it was used for some of the ancillary
activities associated with the manor house to the south west. Up until the
late 20th century the interior was filled with broad ridges which
indicates that it was constructed for horticultural purposes, possibly as
an orchard, a phenomenon common in the late medieval and post-medieval
periods. In the late 20th century a tennis court was constructed in the
interior which levelled most of the ridges. This has recently been

The moated manorial residence and ancillary features are all that survive
of the former medieval village of East Layton, which is known to have been
in existence by the Domesday survey of 1086. Evidence from aerial
photographs shows that parts of the wider medieval village were located to
the east, in the field to the east of the road from East Layton to
Forcett. This field has been intensively ploughed and there are no
earthwork remains visible. By the 14th century the village of East Layton,
in common with other villages in the area suffered a decline in fortune
due to bad harvests, disease and raids by the Scots and was subsequently
abandoned. The manorial residence was abandoned by the late 15th century
when the fashion for moated sites waned, and was probably relocated to the
site of The Old Hall, the present building of which dates to the early
17th century. The second moated site may however have continued to
function as part of the immediate estate of the newly constructed Old

The site of the moated manorial residence is located in the northern part
of the Ashes field and includes an irregularly shaped platform surrounded
by a ditch. Whilst the bulk of the moated site lies on level ground, the
southern part lies on the lower slopes of the ridge to the south. The
platform measures 60m north to south by a maximum of 50m east to west.
Around the outer edge of the platform there is a bank up to 3m wide and
0.5m high. On the northern, western and north eastern sides the ditch
takes a classic form being wide and flat-bottomed. It measures a maximum
of 6m across and is 1.75m deep. Immediately on the outside of the ditch
there is a counterscarp bank up to 3m wide and 0.5m high. On the southern
and south eastern sides of the moat platform, lying on the sloping ground,
the surrounding ditch takes the form of narrow channels up to 2m wide on
the south side and 4m on the south east side. These would have served to
feed water from the slope to the main part of the moat ditch. On the
western side of the moated site there is a circular depression cut into
both the platform and the ditch. The purpose of this is currently unclear.
Beyond the south east of the platform, and separated from it by the ditch,
there is a rectangular enclosure extending northwards down the slope. This
enclosure measures 50m north to south by 18m east to west and is defined
by an earthen bank 2m wide and 0.5m high. In the south eastern corner of
this enclosure there is a circular earthwork with a diameter of 8m. This
is interpreted as the base of a dovecote. It is comparable to a group of
similar sized and shaped dovecotes in this part of Teesdale, which are
dated to the 14th/15th centuries. On the level ground to the east and
north of the moated site there are at least two prominent east to west
aligned ditches. These link up with the moat ditches and served to feed
water to and away from the moated site.

On the slope above the moated site there is a wide ditch extending east to
west across the field, which connects to the moat ditches and also to at
least two further channels on the slope higher to the south. The whole
complex is considered to be a water management system constructed to drain
the sloping ground above the moat and also to provide a water supply to
the moat ditches. On the slope in the south eastern part of the monument
there is a broad terrace of 20 sq m and at the western side of the slope
there is a further terrace measuring 40m east to west by 15m north to
south. Both these terraces are interpreted as garden areas. On the
southern part of the slope two rectangular building platforms orientated
north to south survive as earthworks. These measure up to 9m by 3m in
size. In the western part of the monument, to the west of the moated site,
there are further earthwork remains of enclosures and building platforms
associated with the wider functions of the manorial residence. These are
partly covered by nettle growth and vegetation, which has obscured their
exact form and dimensions.

The second moated site survives as a rectangular shaped platform
surrounded by a steep sided ditch with a further outer ditch parallel to
the southern side. The platform measures 60m north to south by 30m east to
west. The maximum width at the top of the ditch is 14m and it is
approximately 2.5m deep. At the northern and southern ends of the central
platform there are three broad ridges up to 5m across and 6m long. These
are the ends of the ridges, which formerly extended along the whole length
of the interior. The north to south orientation of ridges suggests an
orchard as they are known to have been laid out in this fashion. The
entrance to the interior was via a causeway in the south east corner of
the moat ditch, which measures 10m wide. Some 8m to the south of the
southern moat ditch, and parallel with it, there is a shallow ditch 10m
wide and approximately 1m deep which extends east-west for 40m. This plan
of moated site containing a rectangular-shaped primary moat with a
secondary ditch parallel to one of the short sides is known from the
medieval period.

The wooden fence and gates at the north eastern moated site are excluded
from the monument, although the ground beneath is 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.

Dovecotes are buildings constructed for the breeding and keeping of doves
or pigeons. They are associated with the medieval and post-medieval
landowning aristocracy, both lay and secular, in order to provide a
constant and sustainable supply of meat, eggs and manure. They are often
circular in plan and are characterised by the presence of nesting boxes on
the inside walls. Originally restricted to royalty and nobility, by the
14th century ownership extended throughout the social hierarchy. By the
early 17th century large numbers were erected by non-manorial landowners,
by which time the ownership of a dovecote had also assumed a social
significance. The surviving earthworks of the moated sites, dovecote and
the associated features 120m north west and 180m north of The Old Hall are
well-preserved. A wide range of archaeological remains survive which offer
important scope for the study of medieval domestic and economic life.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Le Patourel, H E J, The Moated Sites of Yorkshire, (1973), 16
Le Patourel, H E J, The Moated Sites of Yorkshire, (1973), 120
Ryder, J, Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire, (1982), 148-149
ANY 168/08, (1984)
ANY 241/07, (1986)

Source: Historic England

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