Medieval moated site at Sayes Court


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012178

Date first listed: 16-Oct-1991


Ordnance survey map of Medieval moated site at Sayes Court
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Kent

District: Swale (District Authority)

Parish: Leysdown

National Grid Reference: TR 02266 66278


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 seigniorial 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 moated site at Sayes Court is one of a small number of round rather than square or rectangular moats in the South East. It therefore illustrates some of the diversity of such monuments, and provides the potential for the exploration of the differences between these different forms of moated site. Having been left apparently undisturbed, the monument has considerable archaeological potential, both on the island and in the moat. The importance of the moat is enhanced by the survival of the church to its east which formed part of the original manorial complex.


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


The monument includes a nearly circular moat and its interior area which formed the site of a moated manor house. The moat, which averages 10m in width, has a maximum diameter of 55m N-S. It would originally have been crossed by a timber bridge, but no evidence of its position is visible. The moated island has been raised by about 1m above the level of the surrounding land and forms a circular area some 30m across. On this platform would have been sited the manor house itself. The surface of the island undulates slightly, suggesting the presence of buried foundations, but no certain traces are visible on the surface. The site is recorded as having been given by William the Conqueror to John de Fiennes soon after the Conquest and subsequently passed into the hands of the Sayes family, after whom the manor site was named.

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: 12866

Legacy System: RSM


Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Moats, (1988)
TR06 NW1,

End of official listing