Ancient Monuments

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Moated site and associated features, 320m west of Knapp Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Corscombe, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.8296 / 50°49'46"N

Longitude: -2.6537 / 2°39'13"W

OS Eastings: 354057.976651

OS Northings: 103538.581143

OS Grid: ST540035

Mapcode National: GBR MN.X1HN

Mapcode Global: FRA 56BX.20G

Entry Name: Moated site and associated features, 320m west of Knapp Farm

Scheduled Date: 19 March 1973

Last Amended: 11 August 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021150

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35390

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Corscombe

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Corscombe St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a square moated site, set within a square enclosure,
and associated earthworks, fishponds and leat located in a field known
locally as Castle Field or Court Ley, 320m west of Knapp Farm.
Documentary evidence suggests that the site was occupied in the 14th
century although possibly abandoned by the middle of the century. The
manor may have been succeeded by Knapp Farm, which has 14th century
origins, or by Benville Manor, 680m to the north west, where there is a
moat which is the subject of a separate scheduling. The site was surveyed
by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments in England in 1987.
The moat, 12m wide and 1.5m deep, encloses a platform 25 sq m which
contains the remains of a rectangular building, now defined by low mounds.
To the north, the moat is separated from a stream running parallel to it
by a broad bank, 7m wide and up to 1.5m high, with a break at the north
east corner where there may have been a sluice for controlling the water
level. The moated site lies in the south eastern part of a square
enclosure, measuring 80m by 80m and defined by a low bank, up to 5m wide
and 0.5m high. The stream passes through the centre of it.
The north west corner of the enclosure bank has been reduced in height by
ploughing and is not visible on the ground, although the area is included
in the scheduling. The moated site was originally approached from the
south where there is a ramp up to the edge of the ditch, marking the
position of a timber bridge or drawbridge. To the west of the moated site
are the remains of at least four buildings, marked by low banks and
earthworks. A probable entrance to the complex is located 10m south west
of the south western corner of the moated site, where the bank beyond the
south side of the moated site turns a right-angled corner and flanks the
entrance for a distance of 6m.
To the south of the moated site and the enclosure are further platforms
which indicate former structures. A hollow way approaches the site from
the south and is flanked at its southern end by two square mounds, about
1m square, containing rubble, which may indicate a former gatehouse
There are two rectangular fishponds to the east and south east of the
moated site. These lie within a polygonal enclosure defined by a bank, up
to 4m wide and up to 0.7m high with an external ditch, 4m wide, visible on
the surface only at its southern end. The south eastern pond is 35m by up
to 8m, and the eastern one is 38m by 8m and has a bank on its east side,
up to 10m wide and 1.5m high. The fishponds appear to have been fed by a
spring 200m to the east, via a leat, 2m wide and 0.4m deep with a bank on
its northern side, 2m wide and 0.3m high. Most of this channel has been
altered and infilled by more recent activity, but a well-preserved length
of about 50m survives and is included in the scheduling. The ponds are
linked by a channel and there is an outlet into the stream at the northern
end to enable control of water levels.

All fence and gate posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these features 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 320m west of Knapp Farm, is a very well-preserved example
of its class, with the rare survival of the remains of buildings and
associated structures. It is one of only 21 moats identified in Dorset. It
will contain archaeological remains providing information about medieval
society, its economy and landscape in which it has been constructed.

Source: Historic England

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