Saffron moat at Higham Ferrers


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


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

North Northamptonshire (Unitary Authority)
Higham Ferrers
National Grid Reference:
SP 95830 68695

Reasons for Designation

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally waterfilled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which usually stood domestic or religious buildings. 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, and they exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. The Saffron Moat at Higham Ferrers is an unusual example of a small later medieval moated site with an internal fishpond and used for horticulture rather than for domestic purposes. It lay within the land used by the canons of Chichele College for growing crocuses for manufacturing saffron. The moat lies close to the College and thus forms an important association with the 15th century ecclesiastical establishment.


The Saffron Moat at Higham Ferrers lies 150m to the west of Chichele College. It is located on flat land in the western part of the town and originally water was supplied to the moat by a spring. The rectangular moated site covers an area measuring approximately 35m x 44m, and is surrounded by a ditch up to 2m deep and 4m wide. A raised bank on the outside of the eastern arm suggests that this may have been the location of a bridge for access to the moat island. The moat island is small, measuring about 12m x 8m, and the centre is sunken. The lower central area is about 1.5m deep and is surrounded by a bank up to 1.0m high, suggesting that the site may have been used as a fishpond, rather than primarily as a domestic moated site. There are remains of a slight bank on the outside of the south arm which would have assisted in retaining water in the moat ditches. The moat derived its name from the fields in which it lay, once called Saffron Close. The site is considered to be associated with the nearby Chichele College, which was founded as a College of secular canons in the 15th century by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury. The canons derived income by growing the crocuses from which saffron, a useful dye, is obtained.

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.

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Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , Archaeological Sites in North East Northamptonshire , (1975), 56


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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