Moated site most likely of C13-C14 in origin and part of the associated Medieval settlement of Tottington. The village was abandoned in 1942 following the acquisition of the site by the MoD as a military training area.
Reasons for Designation
The moated site south-west of Tottington Church and part of the medieval settlement of Tottington is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Survival: the moat is a good example of its type with the principal features surviving well as clearly defined earthworks;
* Potential: there is good evidence for the survival of significant archaeological deposits including structural remains, artefactual evidence, waterlogged organic material and a buried medieval land surface which, together has the potential to enhance our knowledge and understanding of the settlement and the wider social and economic landscape in which it functioned;
* Diversity of features: for the range and diversity of features represented on the site which adds to the archaeological potential and consequently the quality and depth of interpretation and understanding of the abandoned medieval village;
* Group value: it has strong spatial relationship with Tottington Church (NHLE 1342814 listed Grade II*) and the corresponding moated platform to the north-west of the church (NHLE 1003948).
The village, comprising a small group of houses (tofts), gardens (crofts), yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. The Introduction to Heritage Assets on Medieval Settlements (Historic England, May 2011) explains that most villages were established in the C9 and C10, but modified following the Norman invasion to have planned layouts comprising tofts and crofts running back from a main road, often linked with a back lane around the rear of the crofts, and typically having a church and manor house in larger compartments at the end of the village. In recognising the great regional diversity of medieval rural settlements in England, Wrathmell and Roberts (2003) divided the country into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements; these were further divided into sub-Provinces. Tottington sits within the South Eastern Province, where moats dug around isolated farmsteads in the C13 and C14 are one of the more immediately recognisable elements of the dispersed settlement pattern, the moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical defence. Sometimes the East Anglian moats lie within areas where greens were historically a common feature; extensive areas of rough grazing with cottages around their edge.
Tottington was first mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086 where it is recorded as Totintune with the main land holder being Ralf FitzHelwin. At the time the survey records 15 mares. Notable inhabitants of the village include Samson of Tottington who was Abbot of Bury St Edmunds from 1182 to 1211 with Thomas of Tottington filling the same role from 1302 to 1311.
The only standing evidence of the medieval settlement is the Church of St Andrew which is situated at the northern end of the village and listed Grade II* (NHLE 1342814). It is a large C14-C15 church consisting of a west tower, aisled nave, chancel and south porch. It was restored in 1886, when the clerestory was added to the nave. The roof has been re-clad with steel-plates as protection from military training, with the original tiles stored within the church for reinstatement sometime in the furture. The surrounding village was abandoned in 1942 when it was taken into the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Stanford Training Area (STANTA) and, apart from the church, only a few ex-council houses remain. Other medieval buildings have not survived but earthwork and crop mark features to the east of the area under assessment, depict a series of degraded enclosures partly overlain or subdivided by drains. Apart from the church, the well-preserved earthworks of two moated platforms are the most obvious remains of the medieval settlement; one lying to the north-west of the church and one to the south-west. It is that to the south-west which forms the focus of this assessment. A sunken track runs north to south from the east side of the moated platform and another intersects this further north; both tracks forming part of the village road network. To the east of the north-south track are the earthwork remains of a building and enclosures depicted on OS maps from 1883 to 1977 and most likely remains of the C17 house mentioned in the Norfolk Historic Environment Record (HER 5065). The long narrow enclosures to the south of the building on the late C19 OS map are certainly indicative of medieval crofts.
The moated platform lies approximately 500m south-west of St Andrew's Church, Tottington in the corner of the field, immediately north of the stream that feeds it. The village as a whole is located on a band of loamy soil sandwiched between freely draining sandy Breckland soil to the north and acid peaty soils to the south.
The stream fed moat survives on all sides of a rectangular platform to a depth of c1.2m and approximately 5m wide with a causeway midway along the northern arm. The southern arm is formed of the stream feeding the moat and the north, east and west ditches are waterlogged but with no standing water at the time of the site visit (September 2015). The moat surrounds a rectangular platform measuring approximately 65m north to south and 50m east to west with earthworks evident on the surface of the platform although the vegetation at the time of the visit made it difficult to determine the exact alignment of these. An external bank is evident on the east and west sides, that to the west being slightly more pronounced, surviving to a height of approximately 0.4m.
Curving from the south east corner of the moat and continuing north through the field is a large ditch c1.5m deep and c5m wide. It continues northwards to south-west of the churchyard. This takes the form of a sunken trackway leading northwards to the church and southwards possibly providing a ford over the stream at the southern end. A second ditch running east to west intersects the north-south track approximately 90m north-east of the moat. East of the intersection are the remains of buildings, possibly those depicted on the 1883 1:2500 OS map which appear at that time to be associated with two linear crofts running to the south, a well and a possible second toft or outbuilding. These survive as clear earthworks with building rubble exposed in places on the surface and probably represent the C17 house mentioned in the Norfolk Historic Environment Record (HER 5065).