Moated site and fishponds south east of Westoning Manor


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008759

Date first listed: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Aug-1994


Ordnance survey map of Moated site and fishponds south east of Westoning Manor
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. 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.

District: Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Westoning

National Grid Reference: TL 02744 32537


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 Westoning moated site is a very well preserved, high status moat with important royal connections. Historical records indicate that the site was in continuous occupation from the 14th to the 19th century which, together with its essentially undisturbed character, will allow a study of changes made through an extended period of time at a site representative of the upper orders of society. The island will retain buried evidence of buildings, and the silt deposits within the moat will contain both artefacts and environmental evidence related to the occupation of the site. The site is further enhanced by the presence of the associated fishponds and complex water-management system. A fishpond is an artificially created pool of slow moving freshwater constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to provide a constant and sustainable supply of food. The tradition of constructing and using fishponds in England began during the medieval period and reached a peak in the 12th century. They were largely built by the wealthy sectors of society; monastic instititions and royal residences often having large and elaborate fishpond complexs. Fishponds were often grouped together, either clustered or in line, and joined by leats; each pond being stocked with a different species or age of fish. The difficulty of obtaining fresh meat in the winter and the value placed on fish in terms of its protein content and as a status food may have been factors which favoured the development of fishponds and made them so valuable. Fishponds are important for their associations with other classes of medieval monument and in providing evidence of site economy. The fishpond complex to the south east of the moated site near Westoning Manor is a well preserved example of a nucleated pond group. The design of the ponds shows ingenuity in the way that the stock was managed and will provide valuable evidence for the economy of the adjacent moated site. The silts within the leats and ponds are virtually undisturbed and will retain artefacts and environmental evidence related to the period of use.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The moated site at Westoning lies on the western side of the village, immediately to the south east of Westoning Manor. It consists of a circular moated enclosure, about 80m in diameter, with associated drainage leats and fishponds.

The moat ditch is approximately 15m wide and approximately 3m deep and it encircles a flat island 50m in diameter. To the south, a drainage leat, which runs down from the north east, has been diverted around the perimeter of the moated site forming a partial outer ditch, 8m wide by 1m deep. The leat continues southwards where it leads into a number of drains and leats which surround the monument. To the south west of the moat are a series of dry fishponds indicated by rectangular depressions, each about 1m deep. Two of the ponds are clearly visible; a large pond measuring about 15m by 10m flanked by a smaller pond to the north measuring 10m by 5m. The ponds were supplied from the south east by two parallel leats flowing from a drain connected to the ditch surrounding the southern side of the moat. A third supply entered the northern pond from a parallel drain running from the same ditch on the western side of the moat. The water level was regulated by an outlet leat following a south westerly route from the western corner of the ponds. A further leat running on a parallel alignment to the south east may also have been used to regulate water levels by diverting the inward flow from the supply channel. The supply channels, together with the outer moat ditch and the fishponds, form the boundaries of a roughly rectangular enclosure, 75m by 50m, to the south west of the moat.

The 1842 Enclosure Award map shows that the moat was the site of the original manor house. The map also clearly marks the entrances on the north and west sides of the moat. The construction of the moat has been ascribed to William Inge, Chief Justice during the reign of Edward II, who acquired the manor of Westoning in 1297 and initiated many improvements. After a period of decline in the 15th and 16th centuries, Westoning Manor was granted to Thomas Curzon, whose descendant was created Earl of Pomfret in 1772.

All fences and posts 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.


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

Legacy System number: 20407

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bell, R, Westoning Old Manor House Site and Moat, (1975)
Wadmore, B, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire, (1920), 177-9
CRO: MA 63/1 and Book N: Enclosure Award, (1842)
SMR report, Simco, A, Westoning Manor, archaeology and history, (1990)
SMR report, Simco, A, Westoning Manor, archaeology and history, (1990)

End of official listing