Moated site north of the Moat House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009886

Date first listed: 01-Mar-1977

Date of most recent amendment: 28-Jul-2014

Statutory Address: Moated site north of the Moat House, Bigg Lane, Arborfield, Reading, RG2 9LN


Ordnance survey map of Moated site north of the Moat House
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Statutory Address: Moated site north of the Moat House, Bigg Lane, Arborfield, Reading, RG2 9LN

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

District: Wokingham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Barkham

National Grid Reference: SU 76942 65756


Moated site dating from the medieval period. Within the moated island and ditch are likely to be buried remains of former structures and organic deposits.

Reasons for Designation

The moated site north of the Moat House, originating in the medieval period, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: the island and three sides of the moat survive as distinct earthworks; the fourth side is presumed to have survived as a back-filled feature; * Potential: the site retains valuable information relating to the layout of the medieval and post-medieval structures and uses of the site, and the archaeological remains and environmental deposits in the moat and on the island may provide further information and understanding of life in the medieval and post-medieval periods.


Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often water-filled 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 Victoria County History for Berkshire (1923, 238-241) notes that aside from the manor house, Biggs Farm was one of two moated farmhouses in the village of Barkham. No details of historic tenure of the site are given. The VCH commented that the farmhouse had been recently pulled down while the new house [to the south of the moated site], The Moat House, preserved its name.

It is unknown whether the moat and banks here were lined. Prior to the early-C20 Old Biggs’s Farm stood on the north-west corner of the island, and may have replaced an earlier building, buried remains of which may survive. Formal gardens are shown on the 1872 Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map; these too may have left archaeological deposits. The map also shows a bridge spanning the moat on the south side, of which there are no visible signs.

The island was used as allotments in the mid-C20; surface inspection in 1976 revealed no building debris, pottery or tiles. It was subsequently grassed over and used as a site for military band performances. There was a scheme of tree planting outside the scheduled area on the top of the banks in the 1970s.

There have been no recorded excavations or non-intrusive surveys of the site, which was scheduled in 1977.


Dry medieval moated site in the valley of the River Blackwater. It has a single island and is visible as earthworks on the south, east and west sides, where there is a graded ditch approximately 10m wide. The island rises to c.1m, and the banks up to 2m. The moat bottom gradually rises to the north, where the moat is back-filled. The island is fairly level with a slight rise to the north-west corner, the site of the old farmhouse. The upper parts of the outer banks have been planted with trees and shrubs.

The scheduled area includes the island, ditch and a 2m buffer zone for its protection, and comprises a roughly square area of c.60m x 60m. The boundary is set at an appropriate position to ensure the conservation of the potential buried structural and environmental remains within the moat. The scheduling covers the entirety of the island, hence offering protection to the potential buried remains of former structures and gardens and to environmental deposits, important sources of information for the historic development of the site and the life of its inhabitants.


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

Legacy System number: 20335

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ditchfield, P H, Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Berkshire, (1923), 238-241
Darvill, T, MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Moats, (1989)

End of official listing