Moated Royal Manorial site at Bear's Rails


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013168

Date first listed: 13-Jan-1970

Date of most recent amendment: 29-Mar-1990


Ordnance survey map of Moated Royal Manorial site at Bear's Rails
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Windsor and Maidenhead (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Old Windsor

National Grid Reference: SU 97344 73855


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.

Although a large number of moated sites are known, relatively few survive in Berkshire. This example is of particular importance as it surrounds a rare Royal Manorial site, and survives well with a wide range of features. The site is very well documented historically and has been partially excavated demonstrating the survival of important archaeological remains.


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


The monument includes a moated Royal Manorial site at Bear's Rails, within the Windsor Great Park. The manor was added to the park of Windsor Castle in 1359. The moat is rectangular and comprises an inner ditch and outer earthworks aligned NNE- SSW. There is no visible causeway and the site has maximum external dimensions of 125m NW-SE and 150m NE-SW. The outer earthworks are considered to represent a second moat which, although dry, survives to a depth of 1m and a width of between 5 and 7m. The inner of the two moats is far more substantial, is water-filled and survives in good condition. The width varies from 7m on the NW arm to a maximum of 35m on the SE arm. An internal and external bank survive around part of the monument. One small island is present within the moat and has dimensions of c.7m by 5m. The main island measures 75m NE- SW and 60m NW- SE. Partial excavation on the island in 1919- 1920 revealed the footings of large buildings. After the site's construction Edward III ordered repairs to the hall, kitchen, chamber wardrobe, gate- house and granary while new houses were constructed, evidently timber-framed on stone foundations. Richard II, however, spent very little money on the site and ordered the manor to be demolished in 1395.

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: 12017

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
History of the Kings Works: Volume 2, (1963), 1020
Dennison, E and Darvill, T, HBMC Monument Class Description - Moats, 1988,

End of official listing