Hall Close moated site, fishponds, trackway, field system and dovecote


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


Ordnance survey map of Hall Close moated site, fishponds, trackway, field system and dovecote
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Bedford (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 04357 63352

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 Hall Close is a well-preserved example of a moated site incorporating a complex system of water-management features. Waterlogged conditions in the moat, ponds and associated drains and sluices will preserve a range of environmental and organic remains. Analysis of these would allow a reconstruction of the medieval environment at this site, as well as providing further detail on the fish farming and horticulture being undertaken here.


The monument includes a rectangular moated site with integrated fishponds, an old sunken trackway linking the moat with Riseley village, the headland of a ridge-and-furrow field system to the north of the moat and the foundations of a circular dovecote located at the northern end of the trackway. The monument is situated on land which slopes gently down to the Riseley Brook, a tributary of the River Kym; it lies just over 400m to the north-east of Riseley Church in a field known as Hall Close. The moated site measures at least 200m by 110m in plan. The north-western arm of the moat comprises two parallel fishponds separated by a 0.5m high bank; the outer pond is 8m wide by 1.2m deep while the inner pond is 14m wide by 1m deep. A third smaller pond 50m long, 10m wide by about 1m deep is linked to the inner pond at its south-west end and there are sluices giving out into the north-eastern and south-western arms of the moat; these arms are each formed by a 5m wide ditch. The north-eastern arm drains into a water-filled pond 50m long by 14m wide and at least 1m deep. The south-eastern arm of the moat is a 10m wide ditch which is partially infilled so that it is about 0.5m deep; the ditch runs from about half-way along the pond on the north-eastern arm of the moat and links up with the end of the south-western arm; with the aid of aerial photographs the ditch is observed to continue in the adjacent field where it has been levelled. Part of a second parallel ditch is visible as a slight earthwork running for 40m south-west of the end of the north-eastern arm but the continuation of this outer ditch has been obscured by later quarrying. Aerial photographs show a roughly rectangular enclosure, bounded by an infilled ditch, extending 60m to the south-east of the end of the north-eastern arm of the moat and an outflow leat which runs to the river. Within the moat, an inner island about 70m square is created by a pair of ditches at right-angles to each other; this area is thought to have been used as a garden whilst an area of disturbed ground on the outer island to the south-east is considered to be the site of a manor house. A sunken trackway, up to 25m wide, runs from the south-west corner of the moated site towards the river where it diverges into three paths, probably indicating that a number of crossing-points were used (on the opposite bank, the modern path giving access to Hall Close appears to have respected the course of one of these). Two minor sunken paths run north-eastward of the main track, crossing the field. Along the edge of the field north of the moated site are a series of ridges which are the surviving ends of cultivation earthworks associated with medieval field systems that lay beyond the moat. Because ploughing of the adjacent fields has removed all surface traces of these earthworks, the survival of the headland within Hall Close provides important evidence of the medieval farming at Riseley. A 25m diameter circular structure, comprising a low ring-shaped bank located at the northern end of the trackway, is thought to be the foundations of a dovecote. Because of its location in the path of the track, it is thought that the dovecote was built after the trackway went out of common use. The field was mentioned in a will of 1673 as `Hall Dole' and a deed of 1588 records the conveyance of site and buildings at `Haule Close'. Fences within the area are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath 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
'Beds Notes and Queries' in From Beds Notes and Queries Volume 3, , Vol. 3, (), 328
CRO record: CRT 130, Riseley,
Northants CC 300a/23; 25/01/86, (1986)
Simco, A, Beds SMR record 347, (1989)
Title: Ordnance Survey Record Source Date: 1977 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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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