A medieval manorial complex comprising a twin moated site, fishpond and associated earthworks 750m west of St Mary's Church


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Milton Keynes (Unitary Authority)
Shenley Church End
National Grid Reference:
SP 82400 36676

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.

This complex moated site 750m west of St Mary's Church survives largely undisturbed and intact and is an excellent example of this class of medieval earthwork, unusual in that there are two conjoined moats. Archaeological material from the interior of the site will survive relating to the occupation of the island while environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed will survive in the fills of the moat ditch and fishpond. The proximity of the site to 'The Toot' a motte and bailey and manorial complex which lies only some 400m to the south-east, together with the nearby parish church, allows a detailed understanding of this area in the medieval period.


The monument includes a medieval manorial complex comprising two rectangular moated platforms, a fishpond, an outer enclosing perimeter moat and a building platform, the whole situated in the bottom of a broad shallow sided valley. The more northerly and smaller moat lies orientated north-west to south-east and is roughly square in shape with sides of 38m. The moat itself is dry and well defined with clean steep sides and averages 8m wide and 1.4m deep. The moat platform is raised slightly above the surrounding natural land surface and is 17m square with a level and undisturbed interior. This moat is linked at its south-east corner to a second larger, though less well defined, moat. This earthwork is orientated NNW to SSE and has overall dimensions of some 53m west to east by 60m north to south. It remains intact around the west, north and east sides only, where it averages between 8m and 10m wide and 1.3m deep, the southern arm having been destroyed by the line of Oakhill Road. The interior platform appears to be at the same level as the surrounding natural ground surface and has been disturbed in its southern quarter, possibly during the construction of Oakhill Road. To the immediate west of the northern moat is a linear fishpond orientated NNW to SSE and which measures 50m long by 11m wide and averages 1.7m deep. Currently it is dry but the surface condition of the bottom indicates that it has held water quite recently. This pond appears to have originally been linked to the northern moat by a shallow channel which ran from the north-east end of the fishpond to the north-western corner of the moat. Today this channel has been recut as a drainage channel incised into the old channel bed; it continues similarly cut though the north-west and north-east arms of the moat before running eastwards to discharge into a modern field ditch. To the west, north and east of these elements is a substantial linear earthwork which appears to represent the original boundary of the site. This runs south-west to north-east for some 180m before turning south-east for 90m and then south for 110m. The south and south-west sides are no longer recognisable having been destroyed by the construction of Oakhill Road. Where the earthwork survives it comprises a well defined-ditch averaging 8m wide and 1.1m deep with a spread inner bank up to 5m wide and 0.2m high. This inner bank is broken in the north-west and north-east by two original entrance gaps, respectively 5m and 3m wide. To the north of the former entrance gap the outer ditch widens into an open area, now rather amorphous but which could represent a second fishpond. To the west of this feature the outer ditch becomes rather spread and vestigial but can be followed for some 60m westwards. The inner bank here is however quite pronounced as a plough spread bank 8m wide and up to 0.3m high. To the east this perimeter feature is followed by the modern hedgeline though the inner scarp of the ditch remains intact and up to 1.2m high running parallel to, and some 12m in, from the hedgeline. Between this scarp and the southern moat lies the site of a building platform, orientated roughly north to south and which measures some 18m by 12m. Together these represent a very complete example of a medieval manorial complex with an emphasis on water management and fish farming. All modern boundary features are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them 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.

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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.

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