Moated site, fishponds, and associated building platforms 117m west of Chanstone Mill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014111

Date first listed: 19-May-1952

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Mar-1996


Ordnance survey map of Moated site, fishponds, and associated building platforms 117m west of Chanstone Mill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Vowchurch

National Grid Reference: SO 36549 35812


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 moated site at Chanstone is a well preserved example of this class of monument. The preservation of structural evidence such as post holes will clarify the design and function of the buildings and other structures on the island and those to the north west. Evidence for structures such as bridges will be preserved in the ditch fills, which, along with deposits in the associated water ways, will also retain environmental evidence for activities at and around the site during and after its period of use.

Fishponds were also constructed and used throughout the medieval period, largely by wealthy sectors of society, the larger and more complex examples frequently belonging to monastic institutions and royal residences. The difficulties of obtaining fresh meat in the winter and the value of fish as a source of protein and a high status food may have favoured their development. Because of their importance most were located close to villages, manors, or monasteries, or within parks, so they could be guarded against poaching. The buildings next to the pond at Chanstone could have been used for equipment storage or activities related to fish preparation. As with the fills of the moat ditch, deposits in the ponds will retain environmental evidence related to activities at the site. Evidence for structures such as sluices will be preserved in the ditch deposits.

The close association between this monument and the motte across the river (SM27497) enhances interest in the individual elements of both sites, and further increases the potential for this high status agricultural holding to contribute to our understanding of the political and social organisation of medieval Herefordshire. Visible from the road, the monument is also crossed by a public footpath from which its varied features can easily be seen.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a moated site, with associated fishponds and buildings, situated on level ground on the west bank of the River Dore, near the head of the Golden Valley. The moated site includes a raised platform of oval form, with a maximum diameter of 44m NNW- SSE. The platform rises up to 0.6m above a surrounding ditch, which is not exclusive to the platform but has a distinct outlet to the west which leads into a fishpond, with another to a second probable fishpond to the south west. The surface of the platform itself is generally level, but has a series of raised, roughly rectangular, areas, representing at least three building platforms. Piles of stones on the surface, and others below-surface indicated by patches of rough grass, may be related to these structures. The ditch averages 12m wide, and becomes indistinct to the north where an inlet channel may have entered from the river. The larger pond opens westwards off the moat ditch through an inlet c.5m wide. It is roughly square in plan, c.15m aross, its depth now obscured by dumps of rubble. To the east, south and west the pond is defined by a bank, c.6m wide whose top is level with that of the moated platform; to the north it widens into a raised area supporting two building platforms. The larger, to the west, is c.12m x 6m, aligned south west to north east; the smaller is more distinct and measures c.8m x 4m. Their proximity to the pond, probably a stew or storage pond for fish, suggests these buildings were associated with fish processing, the more distinct being stone built and the larger of the two perhaps of timber construction. The monument includes a number of other features which are represented on the surface by a series of slight earthworks. The county archaeology service carried out a survey during pipe-laying by the Welsh Water Board in 1984, which showed these to include the remains of up to five more possible buildings to the north and west of the pond, all aligned roughly SSW-NNE. A number of water channels, 5m-10m wide and running roughly north-south, would have been part of the original water supply of the monument. The most substantial and easterly of these also forms the western boundary to several of the building platforms, including the two by the fishpond. In addition, a second possible pond was revealed, south east of the larger example and again opening off the moat ditch through a wide channel, with an outlet channel to the south west. Although only faintly visible as earthworks on the surface, these latter features will survive well below ground.

The design of these earthworks relies on the water level being higher than at present - an effect presumably obtained by damming the river. This would also have filled the ditch of the motte on the opposite bank. The moated site and the motte are thus both clearly within the curtilage of the same high status residence, with the complex on the west bank providing the agricultural appurtenancies of the defended lordly dwelling across the river. The provision of the moat on the west side of the river consequently indicates the high status of its owner more than its defensive purpose. By the post-medieval period both motte and moated complex had gone out of use, as the focus of occupation shifted to nearby Chanstone Court.

An unsurfaced footpath passes through the centre of these earthworks, WNW from the roadside gate. An area in the southern corner of the field, where a pumping well was installed by the Welsh Water Authority in 1983, is excluded from the scheduling. The motte and its associated features to the east of the river are the subject of a separate scheduling (SM27497).

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 27504

Legacy System: RSM


held on SMR, HWCC, Chanstone - Vowchurch. Deserted settlement, (1984)
held on SMR, HWCC, Chanstone - Vowchurch. Deserted settlement, (1984)
Noted on NMR listing, Ordnance Survey, (1971)
Title: Chanstone `Tumps' sketch plan of site Source Date: 1950 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: held on SMR, author unknown

End of official listing