Reasons for Designation
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 moat 725m north east of Mount Pleasant Farm survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, social, economic and political significance, longevity, domestic arrangements, adaptive re-use and landscape context.
The monument includes a moated site situated on the summit of a small hill in the heart of the Stone Hill area on the eastern outskirts of the city of Bristol. It is known locally as 'Barr's Court'. The moated site survives as an internal rectangular platform surrounded by a visible and water-filled ditch with an outer bank on all except the north eastern corner where these are preserved as a buried features and deposits beneath later buildings. The moated site covers an area of approximately 1.86ha and the interior platform measures up to 119m long by 105m wide. Within the interior are numerous undulations indicating the presence of buildings, and parch marks have been observed on aerial photographs, particularly in the northern half of the island. There is a slight perimeter bank visible to the south east. The ditch is up to 15m wide and 1.2m deep. The surrounding outer bank is up to approximately 9m wide and 0.4m high. There is a causeway across the moat to the south west and other later footbridges for access.
The surname 'de la Barre' is known from documents in 1248, and may refer to the original founding of a manor or estate in the area at this time. A manor house was first specifically recorded here in 1485 and belonged to the Newton family. In 1540 it was described by Leland as stone-built with a lodge, chapel, and drawbridge and belonged to Sir John Newton. It was dismantled by Sir Michael Newton in 1740. Much of the stone was later re-used to construct a farmhouse (now ruined) and cruciform barn on the north eastern section of the site in the 18th to 19th centuries. The farm house area now contains a children's play area although play equipment is excluded from the scheduling. The barn is occupied and is Listed Grade II (406546), although it is excluded from the scheduling.
Surveys and partial excavations in 1979 located two fish ponds to the south east of the moat, paving and an armorial wine bottle seal and stoneware pottery dated to 1687. Documentary evidence has also indicated the presence of a deer park, warren and coal mines associated with the manor and the moat, whilst within the moat a dove cote was recorded in the 15th century.
Sources: PastScape 201346
South Gloucestershire HER 1424, 3390, 11037, 11036 and 15829