Moated site at The Old Rectory


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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

King's Lynn and West Norfolk (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TF 72411 22259

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 The Old Rectory survives well and includes visible remains of earlier buildings, as well as a variety of earthwork features, and chance finds of pottery and other material have confirmed that evidence of occupation is preserved in deposits on the central island. The monument will retain important archaeological information concerning the construction and use of the site during the medieval and post-medieval periods. Organic remains, including environmental evidence, will be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the moat.


The monument includes a moated site located on the eastern side of Grimston village, 400m north east of St Botolph's Church. The sub-rectangular central island of the moated site has maximum dimensions of c.87m east-west by 77m north-south and is surrounded by a moat which ranges in width from c.8m to c.13m except at the northern end of the eastern arm and around the north eastern angle, where it has been widened to form an irregular pond up to 23m wide. Around the eastern edge of the pond there is a low bank c.0.4m high and up to 8m wide. The eastern part of the southern arm has been revetted on both faces with flint and cement walling as a garden feature, the wall on the outer face being set in front of the original moat edge. The moat is seasonally water-filled and the western arm is permanently waterlogged. At the south east corner is a culverted inlet. The western arm of the moat is retained by an earthen bank up to 0.5m in height, in the middle of which is an outlet with a brick lined sluice. The northern arm is crossed near the eastern end by a causeway c.16m wide, and to the west of this, within the internal angle of the adjacent pond, is an earthen mound measuring c.0.5m in height and c.6m across which is probably a garden feature. The moated site, including the external banks, has maximum overall dimensions of c.125m east-west by c.105m north- south.

In the north western part of the central island there are other slight earthworks. A bank up to 0.5m high, c.8m wide and c.17m in length runs south eastwards at a right angle from the middle of the northern arm of the moat, and the northern part of the western arm is bordered by traces of an internal bank c.0.25m high and c.4m wide. Building materials and pottery found on the island, in holes adjacent to the present house, demonstrate that it was occupied during the medieval and early post-medieval periods. The house, which stands near the centre of the island, dates from the 19th century, as do the associated outbuildings to the south west of it, but they include remains of an earlier building or buildings. The eastern end of the house incorporates a gable wall which is excluded from the scheduling but which displays brick quoins and blocked rectangular window openings of 17th century type, with moulded brick reveals. On the south side of a courtyard adjoining the south east corner of the house is a stone wall faced on the south side with weathered, dressed stone blocks except in the upper part of the eastern end, which has been rebuilt. This wall is included in the scheduling. A brick outhouse, which is excluded from the scheduling, has been built onto the north face of the eastern part. To the south west of this wall, at the end of a range of outhouses on the west side of the courtyard, there is a building, the east, south and west walls of which are of stone with courses of old brick. The original construction of these walls resembles that of the early gable wall in the house, although patched with later insertions of brick and stone. The early walls in this structure are included within the scheduling. On the inner face of the moat to the south west of this is a fourth length of ancient wall. The western part comprises a revetment of dressed stone blocks, with a later wall of flint and stone above and brick buttresses, and the eastern part is a stone revetment of different build, with a stone plinth and brick coping. The lower parts of this wall (below the rebuilt section to the west and below the coping to the east) are included in the scheduling.

The house and the associated outbuildings and walls, other than those described above as early features, are excluded from the scheduling, as are the paved yard surfaces and the driveway, three inspection chambers to the north west of the house, a modern timber footbridge across the southern arm of the moat and fencing around the outer edge of the north western corner, although the ground beneath them 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:


Case, Mrs J D, (1993)
Rogerson, A, 3603 West Norfolk, Grimston, (1983)


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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