A moated site 200m north east of St Peter's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009401

Date first listed: 13-Dec-1994


Ordnance survey map of A moated site 200m north east of St Peter's Church
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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: Milton Bryan

National Grid Reference: SP 97291 30810


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 moated site at Church End is a well preserved example of a small, single island type, with surviving evidence of the water management system. The silts within the undisturbed sections of the surrounding ditch will contain both artefactual and environmental evidence relating to the period of occupation, and the island retains the foundations of former buildings. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the existence of a hollow way approaching the site from the south, and by its association with a series of contemporary cultivation earthworks which illustrate the developing economy of the settlement. The monument lies within an area where moated sites are particularly numerous, enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. The existence of documentary records, placing the moated site within the context of the adjacent village, adds to the significance of the monument.


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


The moated site at Church End is located on a south east facing slope approximately 200m to the north east of St Peter's Church, Milton Bryan. The monument consists of a rectangular, medieval moated enclosure, with a hollow way approaching the site from the south and a supply channel entering the moat from the north. The moated island measures 50m east to west and 36m north to south, and is surrounded on all sides by a ditch which is between 3m and 4m wide. The ditch, which is seasonally water-filled, varies between 0.5m and 1m in depth and shows evidence of silting within the northern arm. The surface of the island slopes gently to the south east and contains a central raised area. This platform, which measures 25m east to west by 10m north to south, survives to a height of 0.3m, and is considered to indicate the foundations of a range of buildings. The edge of the island retains traces of a bank extending for 2m-3m from the inner scarp of the surrounding ditch. This is visible to a height of c.0.4m around most of the perimeter, although a section has been removed by the construction a large pond within the north west corner of the enclosure. A second pond has been formed by extending the outer edge of the ditch towards the southern end of the western arm. A short section of counterscarp bank survives to the north of this pond and extends for about 20m flanking the northern arm of the ditch. The ponds are depicted on an Enclosure Award map dated 1793, and are considered to be post-medieval in date. Access to the island is provided by two causeways crossing the centres of the northern and southern arms of the moat, neither of which is thought to be original. A hollow way, some 6m wide, and 0.4m deep extends approximately 80m to the south of the southern arm. This is considered to be the original approach to the site, and presumably led to a bridge or former causeway slightly to the west of the present entrance. The moat was originally supplied with water from a spring located near the road some 60m to the north. A supply channel, 4m wide and up to 0.8m in depth, extends from the field boundary on the southern side of the road to the northern arm of the ditch. A second leat joins a wide channel which enters the pond in the north west corner of the enclosure. This however, is thought to have been enlarged during the post- medieval period. The supply channel to the north of the moated site forms the western limit of a series of cultivation earthworks (ridge and furrow) aligned across the hillside to the east. This pattern of earthworks extends to the east and south east of the enclosure, although separated by a modern field boundary which extends from the southern arm of the moat. The ridge and furrow to the south of the moated site is contained by a 2m wide headland which marks the eastern edge of the hollow way. The cultivation earthworks appear to have developed after the establishment of the moated site, and provide an archaeological context. The 1793 Enclosure Award map shows five lanes entering the village, four of which converge to enclose the area surrounding the moated site. The location of these communication routes, together with the proximity of the medieval church, indicate the importance of the site which represented the focal point of the medieval and early post-medieval settlement. The village takes its name from the Brian family who held the manor from the later 12th century until 1344 when it was acquired by Woburn Abbey. The manor was annexed to the Honour of Ampthill after the Dissolution, thereafter passing through several owners until purchased by the Duke of Bedford in 1906. The presence of a later manor situated some 600m to the south indicates possible abandonment of the Church End site in the 17th century. A 5m sample of the cultivation earthworks is included in the scheduling in order to protect the archaeological relationship between these features and the supply channel, the eastern arm of the moat, and the hollow way. A 2m margin, considered essential for the continued support and protection of the outer edge of the ditch, is included around the remaining perimeter of the monument.

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: 24413

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
'Milton Bryan' in Bedfordshire Parish Survey, (1979)
Enclosure Award Map, CRO MA 70, (1793)
location of springs, Glasse, J, (1993)
Ref:12/57, DOE, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, District of Mid Bedfordshire, (1961)
Ref:12/67, DOE, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, District of Mid Bedfordshire, (1961)

End of official listing