Moated site with fishponds and enclosures at Empingham


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Rutland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 94761 08258

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 Empingham is one of the best preserved and earliest sites of its kind in Leicestershire. It comprises a manor, fishponds and garden terrace plots whose association gives important evidence of the economic activities of a moated manorial site.


The moated site at Empingham is situated on the north bank of the river Gwash to the west of the village. It comprises a large rectangular moat, fishponds to the south-west, and garden plots and enclosures to the north and east. The moat, which lies with its longest axis parallel to the river, measures approximately 110m x 60m with a ditch 12m wide and more than 3m deep in the northern arm. There is a stone entrance causeway on the north west side. On the southern side there is an external bank with a channel leading towards the river, with less well defined signs of an outer bank on the east. Evidence of structures exists on the island in the form of stonework foundations defining the outline of a building. To the west is a fishpond 80m in length, 15m wide and 1.5m deep connected by channels to the moat; a second fishpond to the south which is 50m long, lies parallel to the river, and is part water-filled. North of the moat, terraces cut into the hillside are identified as garden or orchard plots which were part of the manorial complex. To the west of this, a hollow way comes down from the north and cuts across a number of banks identified as enclosure boundaries. Most moats were built between 1250 and 1350, although a documentary reference of 1221 indicates that the example at Empingham may be earlier. It refers to Ralph de Normanville obtaining six oaks from the king for the hall.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

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Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Rutland, (1911)
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of Rutland, (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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