Moat, two fishponds, boundary bank and ditch and two leats


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Rushcliffe (District Authority)
Rushcliffe (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 74228 39647

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 moated site at Whatton is a very well-preserved example and is associated with a range of ancillary features which illustrate well the diversity of form and function of this class of monument.


The monument is situated north of the modern course of the River Smite at Whatton and includes a moat, two fishponds, one of which is located on the island of the moat, two leats and a section of a boundary bank and ditch. Not included in the scheduling, except at the point where it joins the moat, is the ditch leading south-eastwards from the eastern corner of the monument. This ditch is interpreted as a field-drain with no contemporary associations with the moat. The moat includes a sub-rectangular island, orientated south- west to north-east, measuring c.60m by c.40m and surrounded by a ditch varying in width from 6m to 10m. The ditch is between 2m and 3m deep and is crossed by a causeway on the south-west side. A 4m wide revetment bank extends round the outside of the moat and has been incorporated into a modern field boundary on the north-west side. On the south-west side, north of the causeway, the bank also branches south-westwards to form the long south-east side of a rectangular fishpond measuring c.5m wide by c.40m long. The second fishpond, located on the island, is also roughly rectangular but is somewhat larger at 45m long and between 10m and 15m wide. It is also deeper at between 2m and 3m, but the relative shallowness of the smaller pond may be due to silting. The fishpond on the island is connected to the moat on the north-east side by a V-shaped channel which would formerly have been controlled by a wooden sluice. Earthworks on the island are the remains of features and structures connected with the management of the fishponds and include a 2m high mound at the northern corner which overlooks the sluice and may have been the site of its mechanism. Low earthworks along the south-west side of the island indicate the site of a building or tower. At the south corner of the island is a slightly sunken area measuring approximately 10m square, while along the north-west edge is a similar feature measuring c.5m by c.30m. These features have the appearance of sunken earth floors which indicates that they may mark the positions of other buildings or enclosures. Two leats or water courses are associated with the moat. The first leaves it at its northern corner, heading north-west for 35m then turning eastwards for another 35m before turning north again and joining the former course of the River Smite. The leat is largely filled in now and, though c.5m wide, is somewhat less than 0.5m deep except along the stretch nearest the moat which is flanked on both sides by 2m wide banks standing a little over 1m high. Because of the double bend in the channel, it is believed that other features relating to the monument existed in the area to the north-west but, as the extent and state of survival of the remains here are not known, this area has not been included in the scheduling. The second leat leaves the moat at the southern corner and is also largely filled in but can still be seen as a shallow depression running south-westwards towards Whatton Bridge. It is approximately 90m long and, at a point c.20m north of the bridge, it empties into an equally shallow ditch which extends along the east side of a substantial earth bank which runs parallel with the lane beyond. This bank is 1.5m high and 4m wide and runs the full width of the modern field, passing through the garden of the house on the north side where it is bisected by a garden path. Ordnance Survey maps show that it formerly continued along the western edge of the cricket field to the north, but in this area it has now been levelled. It is a boundary bank and would have marked one edge of the property which incorporated the moat and fishponds. The site may have been a medieval manorial complex but there is also a local tradition of monastic ownership reflected in a number of local names which include a house called The Grange and both an Abbey Farm and an Abbey Lane. During the reign of Henry II (d.1189), the parish church of St John of Beverley was owned by Welbeck Abbey and a documentary reference of 1241 refers to an exchange of lands at Whatton between Abbot William of Welbeck and a local landowner. This may indicate that the site was a grange; that is, a farm owned by a monastery rather than a monastery itself. Sixteenth century references report that lands owned by the churches of both Whatton and Aslockton were purchased by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Excluded from the scheduling are all modern boundary fences crossing the monument though the ground underneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Nottinghamshire: Volume I, (1906), 311
'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Transactions of the Thoroton Society: Volume 1, 1897, , Vol. 1, (1897), 265
In SMR, Bowden, DC, Whatton, (1978)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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