Belgrave moated site and medieval garden


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Belgrave moated site and medieval garden
© 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.

Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 39028 60521

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.

Belgrave moated site remains in good condition and is a rare and unusual example in England of a medieval moated site and associated garden. The documentary evidence indicates the monument was created at the end of the 13th century by a royal servant at the time that the medieval English garden began to flower. Knowledge of gardens of this period is almost entirely documentary thus the extant example at Belgrave offers considerable archaeological potential for gaining information of the flora, layout and other individual elements utilised in creating a medieval garden.


The monument consists of a rare and unusual example of a moated site flanked on three sides by what limited excavation has proved to be a medieval garden. The site comprised a trapezoidal island c.83-96m x 76-83m currently heavily vegetated by tall grass, nettles and thistle, and surrounded by a predominantly waterlogged moat 12m wide x 2.5m max. depth. Access to the island is presently via a causeway across the E arm, however, there are traces of another causeway across the S arm. In the W arm is an oval mound considered to have carried the pier or abutment of a bridge. The moat is surrounded on its N, W and S sides by a broad berm or bank and an outer ditch. On the S side the berm is flat and extends into the modern field for c.21m to where its 6m wide outer ditch has become flattened. Along the N side there is a narrower but better defined linear bank 12m wide, tree covered, and projecting at the NE corner to form a `horn'. Its outer ditch is still used as a field boundary. The complex in the NW corner is dominated by an almost circular mound 16m dia x 1.8m high and surrounded by a silted ditch 3m wide. Immediately S is a lower triangular earthwork. These features are cut out of the berm forming the W side of the site and the ditches surrounding them are connected to the moat. The outer boundary ditch on the W side is flatter and broader than those on the N and S and resembles a holloway. Belgrave moat was built at the end of the 13th century by Richard the Engineer, one of Edward I's leading military engineers and the man responsible for much of the work on the Welsh castles at the end of the 13th and into the 14th century. It passed to the family of his daughter by marriage, but by the end of the 14th century is likely to have been abandoned as a residence and farmed by a local family. From then on, and certainly from the beginning of the 17th century, it has not been occupied. All fences, gates and a concrete inspection chamber are excluded from the scheduling. The ground beneath all these features, 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Harvey, J, English Medieval Architects, (1952), 164-5
Turner, R C, Sale, C B, A Medieval Garden at the Belgrave Moat, Cheshire, (1986), 1-19
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Moats, (1988)
Stored in the Eaton Estate Office, Badesdale, T, (1737)
Stored in the Eaton Estate Office, Williams, Early-mid 17th century,


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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