Moat Farm moated enclosure and associated settlement earthworks


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010112

Date first listed: 18-Apr-1991

Date of most recent amendment: 17-Mar-1995


Ordnance survey map of Moat Farm moated enclosure and associated settlement earthworks
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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: Marston Moretaine

National Grid Reference: SP 99268 41211


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.

Moat Farm survives in a very good condition and is one of the finest examples of a single island moated site in Bedfordshire. Despite modifications to the moat, the ditch silts, particularly within the infilled sections, will contain both artefactual and environmental evidence relating to medieval and post- medieval occupation. The island contains a standing building which is in part contemporary with the late medieval occupation of the site, and the buried remains of earlier structures and features which will reflect the character of the original settlement. The monument lies within an area where moated sites are particularly numerous enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. Two former moated sites are known to have existed to the south of the Woburn Road, both within 350m of Moat Farm. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the direct association between the moated site and a range of well preserved earthworks which include the remains of part of a contemporary settlement. The relationship between these two aspects of the monument provides important evidence for the social and economic development of the overall site, illustrating both the interdependence of these contrasting forms of settlement and the disparity between the lifestyles of the inhabitants.


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


The medieval moated site and associated settlement earthworks at Moat Farm lie to the west of the modern village of Marston Moretaine. The moated site is rectangular in form, measuring 74m by 95m, inclusive of the surrounding 12m wide, water-filled ditches. Two short projections of the moat ditch extended from the south and east corners. These extensions were infilled in 1973. Moat Farm, a grade II* Listed Building, stands within the eastern part of the island. This building, which includes the remains of a 15th century cruck- framed hall, is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included as it will retain evidence of earlier occupation. A series of low earthworks to the south west of the house mark the foundations of further buildings and features within the island. The moated site is thought to have been constructed in the 14th century, superseding an earlier moated site situated in the grounds of the rectory some 200m to the south west. To the south east of the moated enclosure, a series of rectangular raised earthworks extends for about 300m flanking the northern side of the Woburn Road. These features, which range in size from 5m by 10m to 10m by 30m, survive to a maximum height of 0.7m and are considered to mark the location of an associated settlement. In the western part of the site the platforms are aligned along the southern side of a hollow way which extends from the edge of the gardens of Moat Farm Cottages. The northern edge of the hollow way is defined by a 0.5m high bank which extends for about 20m from the garden boundary. This bank, or headland, marks the southern limit of a series of cultivation earthworks (ridge and furrow) which extend across the fields to the north. The building platforms extend to the east, separated by about 40m from the south-east arm of the moat. This intervening area contains a diffuse pattern of low earthworks which are thought to mark the positions of further out-buildings associated with the moated site. Moat Farm, the surface of Moat Farm carpark, all fences and fence posts and the surfaces of the access roads crossing the site, are excluded from this scheduling although the ground beneath all these features 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: 11547

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Allden, A, Bedfordshire Archaeological Parish Survey, (1979)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Bedfordshire, (1908)
Wadmore, B, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire, (1920)
Simco, A, 'Beds C.C. Report' in Moat Farm, Marston Moretaine, (1986)
2/36, DOE, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, Barton le Clay,
Barton, N., AA 046414/1: Correspondence with owner, (1990)
CRO R1/259, (1859)

End of official listing