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 moat at Loughton survives in an excellent state of preservation and is a
fine example of its class. The attached fishpond, leats and surrounding early
fields will allow a detailed understanding of the water management system
employed and how it functioned as a part of the early field drainage system.
The stock enclosure provides evidence for a changing emphasis of agricultural
practices, while the later building platforms with their associated leats
allow further understanding of how the same water supply was later used as a
source of power. Archaeological material relating to a long period of
occupation and a changing emphasis of land use will survive over an extensive
part of the site. Environmental evidence relating to the changing landscape
conditions in which various elements were constructed and functioned may also
survive beneath the various banks and in ditch fills.
The monument includes a moated site, associated fishpond, a representative
sample of a surrounding field system, later building platforms and a stock
enclosure. The moated site is situated on the gentle north-facing slope of a
small valley, orientated NNE to SSW, and measures overall 40m square with
clearly defined ditches averaging 6m wide and 1.3m deep. The north and east
sides of the moat are flanked by low outer banks up to 8m wide and 0.5m high.
The top of the central platform lies at the same level as the surrounding
natural land surface and is 20m square with a level and undisturbed surface.
Attached to the south side of the moat and at a slightly lower level is a
large dry fishpond; it measures overall 42m NNE to SSW by 30m transversely and
is terraced into the hillslope 0.6m deep on its west side and 1.3m deep on its
east side. Outer banks flank these west and east sides and are respectively
0.7m and 0.4m high. Running immediately along the western side is a shallow
ditch 4m wide and 0.2m deep which appears to be a by-pass leat feeding into
the moat; this was supplied by a small stream which was a flowing surface
stream in 1975 but is now culverted at the south west corner of the fishpond.
The main supply to the fishpond appears to have been from ditches draining the
ridge and furrow to the south and east, feeding into the south east corner of
the pond through a well defined channel. The fishpond appears to have been
linked to the moat at their respective north west and south west corners where
there are indications of a possible sluice. A second possible sluice site at
the north west corner of the moat links it with a northern extension of the
west arm of the moat. This runs for 34m and is 6m wide and 0.5m deep and
functioned as an overflow channel for the moat. A narrow channel 1m wide, the
possible position of a third sluice, lies at the north east corner of the pond
linking the interior with a stream to the north of the site.
Between the moat and fishpond in the west and Loughton Manor in the east,
are a series of earthworks of medieval and post medieval date, comprising the
remains of building platforms with associated crofts and linear field
boundaries. Seven building platforms have been identified, all of which lie
adjacent to the old course of the Loughton Brook, the brook having been
re-routed to its current position in the 1930s. The platforms themselves are
rectangular in shape and are of an average size of 12m by 10m. One has been
positively identified by finds from its exposed surface as being of late
Each of the platforms is surrounded by a rectangular croft, the boundaries of
which are formed by shallow ditches or leats often interlinked and discharging
into the old Loughton Brook. These buildings have, as a result of the emphasis
on water management, been interpreted as being associated with some industrial
process based on water power.
At the western extent of the site, there are north to south orientated
earthworks representing ridge and furrow cultivation, extensive traces of
which can be recognised to the south averaging 8m wide and 0.2m high.
Overlying these are the remains of a similarly aligned later enclosure. It
comprises two parallel linear banks some 60m long spaced at some 20m distance,
closed at the north and south ends and partitioned by cross-banks. It has been
interpreted as representing the remains of a medieval stock enclosure,
possibly for lambing, constructed on an amalgamation of strip holdings.
All modern structures and field boundary features are excluded from the
scheduling though the ground beneath is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.