Rolleston manor: three moats, eight fishponds with sluices, ridge and furrow and a leat


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011134

Date first listed: 11-Dec-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 22-Jul-1992


Ordnance survey map of Rolleston manor: three moats, eight fishponds with sluices, ridge and furrow and a leat
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Newark and Sherwood (District Authority)

Parish: Rolleston

National Grid Reference: SK7423552735


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.

The complexity and extent of the earthworks at Rolleston indicate a manorial centre of considerable importance. The three moats exhibit well the diversity of form and function of this class of monument, while the associated leat, fishponds and ridge and furrow demonstrate the sophistication of the medieval manorial economy. As the site has suffered only minimal disturbance since it was abandoned, building foundations and other features will survive extensively on the islands. In addition, organic and environmental remains will have been well-preserved in the wet areas of the moats and fishponds.


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


The monument includes the remains of three moats, a group of eight fishponds with sluices, an area of ridge and furrow and a water channel or leat, all of which are associated with the medieval and post-medieval manor of Rolleston. Originally, the leat and fishpond complex extended further north but have been covered by a railway embankment. Although further remains are likely to survive under the embankment, they have not been included in the scheduling as their extent and state of preservation are insufficiently understood. The west moat is a rectangular feature with its long-axis orientated south- west to north-east. It consists of two islands, each roughly 30m square, divided by a 3m wide ditch and surrounded by a 12m wide moat. The latter, which still contains water on the north-west side and is boggy elsewhere, has gradually become silted up and is now c.1m deep. It is revetted on the outside by a flat, 3m wide bank which stands c.0.5m above the surrounding ridge and furrow. A narrow channel or sluice runs eastward from the east corner of this moat into a 3m wide leat or water course which extends to the north-west and south-east for a total of 220m. The ends of this leat are truncated by the railway embankment and by the houses and gardens along the west side of Staythorpe Road. There is a 1m high bank between the west moat and the leat and a similar bank between the leat and the central moat which lies to the north-east. This moat, the largest of the three, is sub-rectangular and has its long axis orientated north-west to south-east, parallel with the leat. Its single island measures roughly 100m by between 50m at the north-west end and 75m at the south-east end. It is likely to have been this island on which the main domestic and ancillary buildings were built, and records indicate that a manor house was still standing on the site in 1820. The island is surrounded by a 3m deep moat measuring c.16m wide on all but the north-east side where it is 12.5m wide. This moat is now dry and the south-west arm contains the modern field boundary. A bank extending round the edges of the island indicates that it too was walled. This bank is especially prominent where it rounds the west corner of the island and extends down the south-west side. Approximately half- way down this side there is a break where the bank starts to turn inwards. Brick showing through the soil at this point is believed to indicate the site of a gate or gatehouse and, therefore, a bridging point over the moat. To the south-east of this, enclosing the south corner of the island, is a slight right-angled bank indicating the position of a building or other walled feature. The east angle of the moat is now filled in but is well-preserved beneath the wooden sheds that over-lie it. At this point it also merges with the south-east arm of the north moat. This arm of the moat has also been filled in but survives beneath the modern farmyard where it has been largely kept clear of buildings and structures. The north moat lies parallel to the central moat and includes an island measuring c.90m by c.70m orientated north- west to south-east. The north-east arm has been filled in and re-dug as a boundary ditch and planted with a hedge. The original moat will, however, partially survive as a buried feature. This moat too bears signs of having a wall-enclosed island. It has been levelled in the past and faint linear earthworks, like very slight ridge and furrow, run along its length. These are interpreted as spade-dug horticultural beds and indicate that the island was the site of a kitchen garden. On the north-west side, the island is separated from an elaborate system of fishponds by an 8m wide stretch of moat which itself probably served as a fishpond. This extends westward for 33m then is blocked by a causeway which joins the area of the fishponds to the north island. Beyond the causeway the moat continues westward and becomes the north- west arm of the central moat, which is then connected via a narrow channel at its west corner to the leat described above. Rolleston manor was part of the Neville estate during the Middle Ages and may also have had connections with Thurgarton Priory. The manorial and monastic economy of the period relied not only on grain-production and animal husbandry, but also on gardening and the active management of food resources such as rabbits and fish. Monastic establishments in particular relied heavily on fish since they were not permitted meat, and elaborate fishpond complexes were often created. Including the north-west arm of the northern moat (Fishpond A), there are eight distinct ponds in the group at Rolleston. In the following description they are labelled A to H. All are rectangular and are interconnected by narrow channels containing sluices which controlled the movement of water and fish. Fishpond A is connected by a sluice leading from its north-east end to Fishpond B. This extends at 90 degrees to 'A' along the north-east edge of the group and measures 30m by 6m. Fishpond A is also connected via a sluice to Fishpond C which lies parallel with it to the north-west and measures 70m by 8.5m. Fishpond B is connected to Fishpond D which lies parallel and to the north- west of fishponds A and C, measures 62m by 10m and is waterlogged. Fishpond D is in turn connected at its west end to Fishpond E, which also lies in parallel to the north-west and is truncated by the railway embankment. An area measuring 50m by 8m is still visible. To the north-west of 'E' is Fishpond F which, although in parallel, is offset and is also partially buried by the railway embankment. This pond is connected to 'E' approximately mid-way along its length, is also waterlogged and measures 70m by 12m. Extending from the western end of its south-east side are two more sluices which connect it to Fishponds G and H. These are parallel with each other and Fishpond B but lie at 90 degrees to the others in the group. Fishpond H, the westernmost of the group, measures 30m by 6.5m while Fishpond G measures 41m by 12m and is connected via a sluice to the moat round the central island. All the fishponds are between 5m and 8m apart except for 'G' and 'H' which are 15m apart. This, and faint traces of what may be another sluice emerging westward from 'G', suggest there was possibly once a ninth fishpond which was filled in while the others stayed in use. In addition to the above features, pronounced earthworks left by ridge and furrow cultivation survive, running south-west to north-east on the west side of the manorial complex and at right-angles to this on the south-side. Formerly these areas lay within the manor's arable fields and were once part of a wider open-field system. Ridge and furrow ploughing was carried out throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods and the plough-ridges at Rolleston cannot be precisely dated without evidence from documents or excavation. However, they clearly respect the west and central moats and so will be broadly contemporary. A number of features are excluded from the area of scheduling. These include all boundary fencing, the surface of the farmyard and the farm-buildings and structures that partially over-lie the moat on the south-east side. The ground beneath these features is, however, 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: 13387

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Allcroft, A H, Earthworks of England, (1908)
St Joseph, J K,

End of official listing