Grafton deserted medieval village and ornamental moat


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Grafton deserted medieval village and ornamental moat
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Jul-2019 at 22:22:19.


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

Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 44855 51325

Reasons for Designation

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval villages are recorded nationally. The reasons for desertion were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Because they are a common and long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy between the regions and through time.

The site at Grafton is the only known example in Cheshire of a juxtaposed deserted medieval village and an ornamental moat of the early Stuart period. As such the monument is a rare surviving example in the region of changing land use from an agricultural settlement to emparkment. The village will contain remains of house plots and field and property boundaries thus affording an opportunity for interpreting the function of the buildings and the arrangement of the settlement. Additionally the site will possess evidence of the original land surface beneath the structural features and survival of ecofactual and environmental evidence in the fills of pits, ditches, postholes and beam slots. Organic material will also be preserved within the waterlogged moat.


The monument is part of the deserted medieval village of Grafton, together with an ornamental moat of a date later than the abandonment of the part of the village over which it lies. The monument includes a sub-rectangular island measuring some 36m by 26m that is surrounded by a shallow baggy moat varying in width between 2-8m and 0.5m deep. A dry outlet channel some 37m long by 4m wide and 0.5m deep issues from the moat's eastern side. Adjacent to the moat are a group of earthworks that are the remains of some of the tofts and crafts of Grafton deserted medieval village. These earthworks consist of two raised platforms some 20m square lying to the south of the moat, two shallow hollows about 16m square - one north of the moat, the other to the south - a boundary ditch up to 6m wide to the west of the moat, an old field boundary to the north of the moat, and a number of short lengths of shallow ditch. Grafton was part of Tilston parish in the barony of Malpas at the time of Domesday. In 1333 William de Grafton obtained the manor of Grafton from John Welyn. In 1602 Sir Peter Warburton bought the manor which then consisted of `16 messuages, 16 gardens and 900 acres of various kinds of land'. Sir Peter built Grafton Hall, a short distance to the east, in 1613 and the moat is considered to be an ornamental garden feature associated with the hall. The hall was demolished in 1965. All modern field boundaries and gateposts are excluded from the scheduling. The ground beneath these features, however, is included.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Bennet, B, Dillon, G, Hamnet, J, Liddell, S, 'CAB' in Grafton Hall, , Vol. 10, (1984)
Williams, R, 'CAB' in Grafton SJ 448503 A Deserted Hamlet?, , Vol. 9, (1983)
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Moats, (1988)


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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