The Moot: a ringwork and bailey, earlier Roman settlement remains and later garden earthworks immediately east of the River Avon


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of The Moot: a ringwork and bailey, earlier Roman settlement remains and later garden earthworks immediately east of the River Avon
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SU 18055 21318

Reasons for Designation

Ringworks are medieval fortifications built and occupied from the late Anglo-Saxon period to the later 12th century. They comprised a small defended area containing buildings which was surrounded or partly surrounded by a substantial ditch and a bank surmounted by a timber palisade or, rarely, a stone wall. Occasionally a more lightly defended embanked enclosure, the bailey, adjoined the ringwork. Ringworks acted as strongholds for military operations and in some cases as defended aristocratic or manorial settlements. They are rare nationally with only 200 recorded examples and less than 60 with baileys. As such, and as one of a limited number and very restricted range of Anglo-Saxon and Norman fortifications, ringworks are of particular significance to our understanding of the period.

Despite the alterations in the 18th century, most of the archaeological remains of the ringwork and its associated enclosure survive and its history is well documented. The combination of a ringwork with a bailey is unusual and this example is one of the largest in the country. The earthwork remains of the formal garden, with its unusual earthwork theatre, also survive well. Evidence also survives for Roman occupation, particularly in the area south of the ringwork where structural remains in the form of buildings, tracks and ditches survive. Several Roman settlements are recorded from this area of the Avon valley, including villas and farmsteads. The site has significance as an integral part of the settlement record emerging for this area.


The monument includes The Moot, a ringwork and bailey, later reused as a formal garden with an earthwork theatre, and an area of Roman remains under and to the south of it. The site is located on level ground on the east bank of the River Avon and at the foot of a west-facing slope. The ringwork and bailey survive as earthworks although these were modified in the 18th century to establish a formal garden and associated earthwork theatre. The ringwork is at the centre of the monument and is defined by earthworks surviving to between 5m and 6m above the medieval ground surface. Two entrances, to the north east and to the west, divide the earthworks into two separate sections. The interior area is 20m across. Beyond the ringwork, to the east and north, is the bailey, an enclosed area which contained associated ancillary buildings and settlement. The north side of the bailey has been partly levelled and built over although below ground remains will survive. To the east and north east the bailey is visible as a level area c.80m north to south by c.40m east to west, defined by a bank and ditch. The bank has been altered, presumably at the time the garden was established, but survives to 2m high. The accompanying ditch is c.5.5m deep on the south east side. To the north east the ditch has been largely infilled; a small-scale excavation in 1990 suggested that this occurred at the time of the 18th century remodelling. The extent of the survival of archaeological remains on the north west side of the bailey, beneath the houses and gardens south of Tannery House, is uncertain and this area has not been included in the scheduling. The defensive works still visible at The Moot were probably constructed by Henry de Blois, Bishop of Winchester, in 1138. It was put under siege during the civil wars of Stephen and Matilda, and was probably slighted in 1155. It was occupied throughout the medieval period and had royal visits in 1317 and 1344. The last sizeable works were in 1466 and by 1647 the site was in disrepair. The 18th century remodelling of the earthworks has produced a fine example of formal gardens and a terraced earthwork theatre, landscaped as an amenity for Moot House which lies nearby. To the west of the theatre is a large fishpond which may have been constructed as a backdrop to the stage. Also included, at the rear of the theatre and on the southern bank of the ringwork, are the foundations of a building, the Temple of Mercury. Evidence from excavations and geophysical survey has confirmed that the ringwork was constructed on the site of earlier remains. Geophysical survey has indicated that the area south of the ringwork's southern ditch was occupied by earlier buildings, one of which was cut by the construction of the ditch. Other features in this area include a further, smaller, building as well as a track and associated ditches. Some of these align with sections excavated further to the south which were dated to the Roman period. Excavations within the gardens of Tannery House north of the ringwork have produced Roman pottery which may indicate the northern extent of these remains. The houses within the monument are excluded from the scheduling as are the changing rooms on the recreation ground; all fences and boundary walls are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these buildings and features 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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Books and journals
Sumner, H, The Ancient Earthworks of the New Forest, (1914)
Report for English Heritage, Hinton, D A, Excavation at 'The Moot', July 9th-13th,
Report No. 463 (pagintion 12), Wessex Archaeology, Tannery House, Downton, Wiltshire, Archaeological Evaluation, (1991)


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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