Blackburn Hall moated site, associated fishponds and quarries


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012361

Date first listed: 18-Feb-1992


Ordnance survey map of Blackburn Hall moated site, associated fishponds and quarries
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Bedford (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Thurleigh

National Grid Reference: TL 04120 58579, TL 04152 58650, TL 04197 58560


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 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.

Blackburn Hall moated site is an above average example of a Bedfordshire moat with well-preserved archaeological structures. Although partially excavated, the monument displays a wide diversity of surviving features including fishponds and a rare association with quarry pits.


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


The monument includes three separate areas which consist of the remains of a medieval moat, fishponds, and quarries associated with Blackburn Hall. The moat is almost circular, measuring about 80m east-west by 75m north-south. The central island is surrounded by a 12m wide moat on all but its south-east arm which is larger, forming a pond up to 20m wide. There is a cobbled ramp leading into this pond, enabling livestock to be led into the water to drink. The moat is about 3.0m deep and permanent standing water is found in the ditch on the eastern arm. A bank flanks the external edge of the moat on its northern and western arms. The bank is about 5m wide and less than 0.5m high. Causeways cross the moat to the east and west. The moat island includes a raised platform, 0.5-1.0m high, with a central hollow in which stands Blackburn Hall, a Grade II listed building. The Hall itself incorporates part of a 13th century aisled building with most of the rest of the structure dating to the post-medieval period. Foundations of ancillary buildings associated with the Hall were excavated in 1990 in advance of construction of a new swimming pool. A pair of fishponds are located some 10m to the south- east. They are approximately 32m in length by 12m wide and up to 2m deep, lying to either side of a small banked island; their northern and southern ends are connected by leats. The ponds are surrounded to the north and east by a ditch, which is known from documentary sources to have been part of a much larger enclosure which extended to the south. The enclosure was surveyed in 1920 but has since been levelled by ploughing. Situated to the north-east of the moat are two quarries. These consist of two water-filled hollows, 30m by 12m in size, which are believed to be very deep. They are identified as the likely source of building materials used in the construction of the Hall and which were later maintained as a source of water. Blackburn Hall lies close to other medieval monuments, including another moated site at Bletsoe less than 1km to the west, and there is a motte and bailey castle at the village of Thurleigh, 1.5km distant. Made trackways and upstanding buildings, including the Grade II listed hall and sheds near the quarries, are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included. The newly constructed swimming pool within the grounds of the main house is also excluded.

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: 20402

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Beds Historical Soc. Data, (1977)
The Victoria History of the County of : Volume III, (1912)
Wadmore, B, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire, (1920)
P.A.S., Ordnance Survey Record,
P.A.S., Ordnance Survey Record, (1973)

End of official listing