Olveston Court moat complex and earthworks


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012362

Date first listed: 17-Oct-1990


Ordnance survey map of Olveston Court moat complex and earthworks
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: South Gloucestershire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Olveston

National Grid Reference: ST 59728 87155, ST 59912 87000


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.

Olveston Court is one of several examples in the Bristol area which were owned by nationally influential figures during the Medieval period. Its development as a major site between the 13th and 15th centuries reflects the growth to prominence of the nearby city and port. The existence of extensive and well-preserved earthworks indicate the high status of the moat and its potential for archaeological remains.


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


The monument comprises the remains of buildings ancillary to the manor of Olveston Court, parts of which date from the 13th century, with subsequent additions and redevelopment most particularly in the 15th century; its structural development is understood from a comprehensive archaeological survey. Included in the scheduling are the courtyard, kitchen courtyard, curtain wall and moat and the earthworks to the north and south-east, which are the remains of other outbuildings and boundaries. Standing structures in the kitchen courtyard include the kitchen and oven blocks, with fireplaces and ovens; in the courtyard walls there are doorways and a gable and fireplace. The curtain wall, a fine example of fifteenth century embellishment for display rather than defence, retains evidence of battlements, a wallwalk, windows, doorways and putlog holes. The moat, which runs along the southern face of the curtain wall, is thought to have been developed from an existing mill leat. Earthworks along the north side of the leat define the boundaries to the west beyond the curtain wall and to the east beyond the Court buildings. Above ground parts of the modern buildings in the kitchen courtyard are excluded from the scheduling, the ground beneath the buildings, however, 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.

Legacy System number: 10505

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ellis, P, 'Trans Bristol and Gloucester Arch Soc' in Earthworks and remains at Olveston Court, (1983)
Ellis, P, 'Trans Bristol and Gloucester Arch Soc' in Earthworks and remains at Olveston Court, (1983), 185-187
Ainslie, J, Olveston Court, 1978, Unpublished research in Shoesmith rpt
Shoesmith, R, Olveston Court, 1988, Report commissioned by EH

End of official listing