Moated site in Chalkdell Wood, 100m north west of Frith Hill House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014600

Date first listed: 25-Jul-1996


Ordnance survey map of Moated site in Chalkdell Wood, 100m north west of Frith Hill House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Chiltern (District Authority)

Parish: Great Missenden

National Grid Reference: SP 90019 01285


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 in Chalkdell Wood is an unusual variant of this class of medieval settlement, few of which survive in such a well preserved condition. The earthworks provide a clear impression of the way in which the monument was constructed to exploit the commanding position overlooking the Misbourne valley and the medieval town clustered around Missenden Abbey. The buried remains of structures and other features will survive within the enclosure. These together with artefactual evidence from both the platform and the surrounding ditch, will provide valuable information concerning the character of the site, the date of its construction and the duration of occupation. The monument lies in an area where moated sites are relatively common, enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. The unusual hillside location of the Chalkdell Wood site and the degree of fortification which it implies is of particular interest in this respect. The defensive nature of the site is belied by the lack of a significant fourth arm to the moat and the fact that the site is overlooked by higher ground. The prominent location may, however, have been chosen to reflect the status of the owner, further signified by the association between the site and the parish church. The site is accessible to the public.


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


The monument includes a small moated site and an adjacent section of hollow way situated in a small area of woodland on the north eastern side of Misbourne valley overlooking the town of Great Missenden. The moated enclosure is D-shaped and measures approximately 58m north to south by 28m east to west, the western side raised to provide a level platform projecting from the hillside, presumably using upcast from the ditch which surrounds the northern and western sides. The surface of the enclosure is marked by numerous minor undulations indicating the buried remains of buildings and other features, the most pronounced being a small sub-square building platform, c.20m in width and 0.9m high, which occupies the north eastern corner. This platform merges with an internal bank, traces of which can be seen around the northern and western side of the enclosure. These traces appeared more distinct when mapped by the Ordnance Survey in the early part of this century. The ditch averages 6m in width with a flat base and steep sides. The scarps leading down from the platform into the ditch vary between 2m and 3m in depth; whereas the outer lip of the ditch is approximately 1m lower in the north part of the site (owing to the natural gradient), and disappears entirely on the southern side of the platform, where only the inner scarp is retained. The fourth side of the enclosure is marked by an unmetalled access track to Hill House on the eastern side of Chalkdell Wood. To the east of the track the ground rises steadily towards the summit of Frith Hill, broken only by the terraced incline of the road to South Heath. The southern side of the moated site is flanked by a hollow way which makes an abrupt turn near the south western corner of the enclosure before descending through the wood towards the (B485) Frith Hill Road. A narrow bank with a pronounced outer scarp extends between the corner of the enclosure and the hollow way forming a small triangular platform, indicating that the two features were contemporary in use. The hollow way is thought to have originated as a route linking the moated site with the parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, which stands at the foot of the hill some 250m to the south. The hollow way is well preserved within Chalkdell Wood, measuring between 6m and 8m in width and between 1m and 2m in depth. However, to the south of the road, the route approaching the church has been overlain by the expansion of the graveyard, and only a small section of eroded trackway survives. This section is not included in the scheduling. The association between the settlement and the church (which has late 12th century origins) is supported by the discovery of medieval pottery in disturbed areas of the enclosure bank in 1991.

All fences and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these items 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: 27151

Legacy System: RSM


AP held by Bucks Museums Service, Farley, M E, BCM A16/1/14 (SP90/01), (1992)
Site notes (Bucks SMR 2072), Farley, M E, MEF Field Visit 10/1/91, (1991)
Site visit report (Bucks SMR 2072), Farley, M E, MEF Field Visit 10/1/91, (1991)
Title: Ordnance Survey 25" Map Source Date: 1920 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing