Church Farm moated site and associated settlement and cultivation earthworks


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012915

Date first listed: 03-Aug-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Dec-1994


Ordnance survey map of Church Farm moated site and associated settlement and cultivation earthworks
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Hockliffe

National Grid Reference: SP 96611 26828


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.

The monument at Church End includes a well preserved example of a medieval moated site, the significance of which is emphasised by its commanding position situated on a platform overlooking a valley to the west of Watling Street. The size of the central island is also significant as it suggests an element of fortification which is not usually associated with this form of monument. The island and the outer enclosure will retain the buried remains of structures and other features relating to the occupation of the site, whereas the ground beneath may retain evidence of earlier occupation and land use. The silts within the ditches maintain conditions suitable for the preservation of both artefactual and environmental evidence which will provide evidence for the character of occupation on the site and for the landscape in which it was set. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the direct association between the moated site and a range of well preserved earthworks which comprise the remains of part of a contemporary settlement and a sample of its associated agricultural system. The relationship between the moated site and the adjacent settlement earthworks provides important evidence for the study of the social and economic development of the overall site, illustrating contrasts in lifestyle amongst its various inhabitants.


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


The moated site at Church Farm is located in a prominent position on a south facing slope overlooking the valley of the Clipstone Brook, a tributary of the River Ouzel. It lies approximately 100m to the south of the parish Church of St Nicholas, which is detached from the modern village of Hockliffe, on Watling Street some 500m to the south east. The monument consists of a small sub-rectangular moated enclosure set within a square platform which projects from the natural slope of the hillside. The platform is adjacent, on the north west, west, and south, to a series of further building platforms and closes which provide evidence of an associated settlement. The moated enclosure comprises an artificial mound which stands some 2.5m above the surrounding ditch. The surface of the mound measures approximately 30m north east to south west by 28m north west to south east. It is relatively flat, although it retains some minor earthworks which indicate buried foundations, and there are traces of a slight bank, 0.2m high and 1.5m wide, surviving around the perimeter. The surrounding ditch, which is visible around all but the northern side of the mound, is seasonally wet and shows signs of silting. It reaches a maximum width of 4m to the south of the island, and is defined by an outer bank, 0.4m to 0.8m high, which measures between 1.5m and 2.5m across. The moated site is contained within a square outer enclosure, 80m in width, which provides a level platform to the south, east, and west of the ditch. This is thought to have contained outbuildings and other features associated with the occupation of the central mound. It is defined by 1.5m high outward facing scarps to the south east and south west, whereas the north east facing scarp is more severe, descending for approximately 2m towards the lane which flanks the eastern side of the site. A hollow way approaches the moated site from the south west and continues to the edge of the bank surrounding the moat, forming a 6m wide, 0.4m deep channel across the outer enclosure. A second entrance way is indicated by a narrow depression extending across the platform to the south. The south eastern side of the outer enclosure is flanked by a 7m wide terrace extending from the base of the scarp, which may have served either as a garden or as the location of further structures. The southern edge of this terrace is marked by a parallel scarp which descends for about 0.8m to form the northern edge of a small rectangular enclosure. This lower platform, which measures 35m north east to south west and 40m north west to south east, contains a number of low earthworks which indicate the presence of buried structural remains. A shallow slope forms the eastern edge of the platform, the remaining sides of which are defined by a later boundary ditch. Access between this area and the main enclosure to the north was provided by a short 6m wide causeway which passes through a break in the outer scarp of the intervening terrace. Further raised areas are visible to the north of the moated site, within the paddock to the west of Church Farm. A large, level terrace, measuring approximately 50m by 10m lies adjacent to the eastern boundary of the paddock, defined by shallow scarps on the southern and western sides. This feature is flanked by smaller platforms to the west which are particularly evident near the southern boundary of the churchyard. These earthworks mark the location of further buildings, considered to be the surviving remains of a village or settlement associated with both the moated site and the church. The hillside to the south west of the building platforms and the moated site retains evidence of former cultivation earthworks (ridge and furrow) related to the occupation of the settlement. These earthworks are contained within a series of rectangular closes. The continuation of the hollow way which extends from the south west side of the moat forms one such division. A second hollow way, 4m-5m wide and 0.4m deep leads towards the eastern corner of the outer enclosure and marks a parallel boundary some 40m to the north west. Subsequent boundaries dividing the area to the north west are represented by two similarly orientated, shallow ditches; the southernmost of which extends between the house plots further up the slope. A section excavated in 1909 across the ditch surrounding the central island produced pottery and a number of metal objects dated to the medieval period. The moated site can be identified as a messuage (dwelling) within the estate of Hockliffe Manor in records which date from the 13th century. All fences and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included in order to protect buried remains.

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: 24414

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Soskin, , Hockliffe and the Gilpin Family, (1972)
'Bedfordshire Times' in Bedfordshire Times and Independent, (1909), 2
'Hockliffe' in Bedfordshire Parish Survey, (1982)
'Kelly's Directory' in Kelly's Directory, (1940)
HH 34-7 CUCAP, (1952)
St.Joseph, J K S, AMW 28-9, 32, (1966)

End of official listing