Fairburn Ings (Newton Abbey) moat


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009926

Date first listed: 10-Mar-1992


Ordnance survey map of Fairburn Ings (Newton Abbey) moat
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Leeds (Metropolitan Authority)

Parish: Ledsham

National Grid Reference: SE 44478 27798


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.

Fairburn Ings moat survives well despite its present location. Waterlogged organic material will be preserved in the surrounding moat whilst the remains of the buildings which formerly occupied the site will survive on the island.


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


The moat at Fairburn Ings Nature Reserve is situated on low ground between the River Aire and the higher limestone area to the north. Although the moated site is now located within the area of an artificial lake, the site is not entirely submerged; hence details of its form are still visible. The monument consists of a single constraint area containing the ditch and central platform of the moat. Archaeological features relating to the monument are also believed to survive as buried deposits outside the moat but these are presently not included in the scheduling as they are totally submerged beneath the surrounding lake, which makes their exact location, extent and nature uncertain. The moat comprises a single sub-rectangular island measuring c.75m at its widest point from north to south and c.50m from east to west. On all sides the island is enclosed by a ditch which, although partially submerged, can be seen clearly through the path of the vegetation growing along its outer edge to vary between c.5m and 7m wide. The island, which is colonised by trees and scrub and is a haven for waterfowl, contains fragments of walling and window tracery. Substantial buried remains of the manor house and ancillary buildings survive on the island and a manorial extent, or description, dating to 1324 indicates the former existence of a dovecote and orchard. The moat is understood to have been the site of the later manor house of the Wallis family who held the vill of Newton Wallis from the mid-twelfth century. The site, which appears to have been abandoned sometime in the first half of the fourteenth century, is sometimes referred to as `Newton Abbey' or `Newton Priory'. In the past this led to speculation that the site was at one time a conventual retreat, but there is no evidence for this.

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: 13285

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Le Patourel, H E J, Moated site of Yorkshire, (1973)
Padgett, L, Chronicles of old Pontefract, (1905)
Padgett, L, Castleford and District in the olden time, (1904)
Clay, C T, 'Yorkshire Deeds volume 5' in Manorial Extent, (1926)

End of official listing