Rufford moated site


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Rufford moated site
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Lancashire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SD 45779 17172

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 moated site at Rufford survives well, its earthworks being particularly evident. The monument is of high archaeological potential with the continued waterlogging of the moat and the survival of the contemporary ground surface on which the monument was originally constructed. The inlet/outlet channel illustrates well the water management system at the monument and there is evidence of an original causeway.


The moated site at Rufford comprises an island approx. 30x25m surrounded by a moat 5-10m wide. Causeways cross the moat at the western and north eastern sides and traces of an outer bank exist around the southern margins. Moated sites are generally seen as the prestigious residences of the Lords of the manor. The moat in such circumstances marked the high status of the occupier, but also served to deter casual raiders and wild animals. Most moats were constructed between 1250 and 1350 and it is to this period that this example is likely to date. The moat is well defined approx. 1.5m deep and still waterlogged with its sides virtually unweathered. An inlet/outlet channel flows north- south immediately east of the moat and functioned as part of the water management system by allowing water in at the northeast corner of the moat and out via the southeast corner. The island is slightly raised above the level of the surrounding land probably as a result of spreading of the upcast from the moat. The monument is heavily covered with trees, scrub and ornamental shrubbery. The fence crossing the monument is excluded from the scheduling.

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:
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Books and journals
Hallam, A M, Moated Site at Longshaw Wood, Rufford, West Lancashire District, (1987)
Verhaeghe, F, 'Medieval Moated Sites in North-west Europe' in Medieval Moated Sites in Coastal Flanders, (1981)
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Moats, (1988)


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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