Newton Bury moated site


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Newton Bury moated site
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. 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.

Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 22684 44681

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 Newton Bury is a well-preserved example of a small, double- island type which retains evidence of the water management system. Despite alterations to the monument, particularly the infilling of sections of the ditches and the later use of the moated enclosures as a farm, the major part of the site has survived with minimal disturbance. Environmental evidence will be preserved in the silts within the ditches, and the islands will contain evidence of the original buildings. The monument lies in an area where moated sites are particularly numerous enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. The existence of historical records relating to the ownership of the site further enhances its importance.


The moated site at Newton Bury lies approximately 1km to the north west of the village of Dunton. The monument includes the remains of a rectangular medieval moated enclosure situated in the south west corner of a larger outer enclosure. The inner moated enclosure measures c.90m east to west by 80m north to south. The surrounding moat has been infilled along the eastern side, though its course is still visible as a shallow depression, 6m wide by 1m deep. Elsewhere it measures up to 4m deep and is currently dry. The north east and south west angles of the moat have been enlarged to form ponds, probably during the post-medieval period. Cattle were watered at the pond situated in the north east angle. The interior contains the remains of Newton Bury farmhouse.

The outer enclosure extends to the north and east of the inner moat. There is a well in the southern part of this enclosure. The visible earthworks consist of a junction of two ditches and a separate section of bank. The ditches measure some 9m wide and 1m deep and form the north eastern corner of the enclosure. An outflow leat, connected to a modern drain to the east, is associated with these ditches. The section of ditch delineating the north side of the enclosure has recently been backfilled, but it will survive as a buried feature. The remainder of the north side of the outer enclosure is defined by a 2m high bank attached to the north east angle of the moat. The bank is on the same alignment as the recently backfilled ditch and may have once survived along the inner edge of the outer enclosure. The south east angle of the outer enclosure can be traced on the ground as a soil mark and a shallow depression. Historical documents relating to Newton Bury Manor trace ownership and descent from 1504.

An unmetalled farm track crosses the outer enclosure. The surface of the track and 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Denroche, E, Newton Bury Moat, Dunton, (1978)
Mawer, A, Stenton, F, Placenames of Beds. and Hunts., (1926)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Bedfordshire, (1908)
Description of estate holdings, CRO: FN 539, (1625)
Ordnance Survey Records, Newton Bury Moat, Dunton, (1972)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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