'The Docks' moated site and dock, Willington


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012079

Date first listed: 03-Jul-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 25-Apr-1991


Ordnance survey map of 'The Docks' moated site and dock, Willington
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Bedford (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Willington

National Grid Reference: TL 11306 50232


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

Reasons for Designation

Around 6000 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 or, in some cases, which were used for horticulture. 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 in understanding the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains. This is a rare example of a moat with contemporary medieval docking facilities. As such it offers an unusual insight into the relationship between moats and water transport in the Middle Ages. Due to its low-lying position, the moat shows high potential for the survival of waterlogged remains.


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


The monument includes the remains of a double island moated site and associated dock next to the River Ouse. The moated site comprises inner and outer moated enclosures. The outer enclosure is `D' shaped with its northern side formed by a scarp parallel to the river. The waterfilled south-east and south-west arms of the enclosure survive in good condition measuring some 12m in width. A slight inner bank survives along the south-west corner of the island. The interior is largely occupied by a disused railway line and station (the embanked line and station are excluded from the scheduling although the remains below the railway's low embankment are included). Attached to its south-west corner are the remains of a rectangular inner enclosure. Its moated island measures some 90m by 25m and is defined by a 12m wide waterfilled moat on the south and west sides. Its north side is defined by the outer moated enclosure. A slight inner bank or rampart is still visible along the south-east arm of the moat. Entrance to the enclosure is across a causeway on the south side which is opposed to a similar causeway across the outer enclosure moat. Recent excavations within the enclosures uncovered the well-preserved remains of buildings dating to between the 11th and 14th centuries AD. Adjacent to the east of the moated enclosures are the well-defined remains of a riverside dock. It was originally one of three interconnected docks at the site. It survives as a rectangular waterfilled pond, measuring some 50m by 35m. The dock was originally connected to the River Ouse by a channel which has since been backfilled. The date of construction of the dock is unknown. The boat house depicted on the Ordinance Survey map is no longer extant.

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.

Legacy System number: 11535

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Calendar of Inquisitions Misc (1348-77), (1937), 392
Goddard, A R, The Victoria History of the County of Willington, (1904), 282-4
Hassall, J, 'Beds Arch Journal' in Excavations at Willington, 1973, , Vol. 10, (1975), 25-40
Earthworks of Beds., Wadmore, B, The Docks, Willington, (1920)
SMR, White, R F, Summary notes in parish survey, (1978)

End of official listing