Moated site known as `The Hoult' and associated field system


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015584

Date first listed: 19-Jun-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Moated site known as `The Hoult' and associated field system
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1015584 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 16-Jan-2019 at 09:03:41.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Potsgrove

District: Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Woburn

National Grid Reference: SP 93773 31076


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 Hoult' is a well preserved example of the double-island class of moated site. Both islands clearly retain buried evidence of buildings and other features related to the period of occupation which, from the documentary evidence related to the site, is known to have been of considerable duration. Further archaeological evidence will be retained in the fills of the ditches which, in addition to containing artefacts reflecting this period of use, will also contain evidence for the means of water management. The extensive pattern of medieval cultivation earthworks and later, post-medieval close boundaries surrounding the moated site is particularly important, forming an extremely rare combination of evidence for both the settlement and the evolution of the dependent agricultural system. The local region, as defined by a recent study of the medieval settlement pattern, has a notable density of moated sites. However, no other site within this region (which includes large areas of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire) has retained such a complete pattern of earthworks reflecting the operation and development of its economy and for which such detailed documentary evidence is available.


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


`The Hoult' moated site stands near the top of a broad south facing slope on the Greensand Ridge, some 2km to the south of the village of Woburn and 1km to the north east of Watling Street (the modern A5). The monument includes the remains of the moated site itself, formerly known as the manor of `Lovells' or `Lovellsbury' (after the family of that name who held it in the 13th century), and an extensive pattern of field boundaries and cultivation earthworks which surround it. The moated site has two islands, a large square enclosure measuring approximately 90m across and an inner enclosure, 35m square, occupying the southern corner of the larger island and sharing the outer ditches on two sides. The ditches surrounding both islands average 10m in width and 2.5m deep, apart from the western arm of the inner island which has been largely infilled. The elevated position of the moated site suggests that the ditches would only have collected water on a seasonal basis. Although now dry, the complete circuit was shown as water-filled on an estate map of 1633 and, according to the tithe map of 1845, the eastern arm may have still held water in the mid-19th century. Since the south east corner of the outer moat is 4m lower than the the north west corner, a series of sluices would have been required to fully enclose the islands with water. Stone and brick foundations can be seen on the western side of the small island, perhaps relating to a building termed `The Hoult', shown here on the 1633 map which was prepared for the sale of the estate to the Earl of Bedford. Other structures and yard areas are indicated by low undulations within the platform, and a small circular depression suggests the presence of a backfilled well. Further earthworks on the larger island point to the prolonged and extensive use of this enclosure, which included a group of four buildings depicted on the 1845 tithe map. A level platform immediately to the north of the inner moat and bounded by a terrace on the west side is thought to have served as a garden. Short sections of banks survive along the outer edge of the southern ditch and along the inside of the northern arm. The original entrance lies in the middle of the eastern side, formed by a causeway between the north east corner of the inner moat and the terminal of the outer ditch. A second causeway, probably a later addition, spans the centre of the southern outer ditch. The moated site is situated within an extensive and well preserved area of cultivation earthworks (ridge and furrow) which survive in the surrounding pasture and cover approximately 50ha. The earthworks form a patchwork pattern based on furlongs (groups of parallel ridges, or lands) which are orientated at right angles to each other on broadly similar alignments to the sides of the moated site. This field pattern, which retains evidence for the headlands and hollow ways which separated the furlongs, is evidently contemporary with the construction and occupation of the moated site. There are, however, traces of a still earlier system (orientated north east to south west) which was clearly disrupted by the construction of the outer moat. The principal divisions between the furlongs are recorded on the 1633 estate map, although the names applied to these `closes' (such as `The three new little meades' and `the old penn') indicate that the former cultivation pattern had, by this time, been converted to pasture. It is this change which is thought to have enabled the survival of the earlier earthworks. The 17th century banks and ditches which divided the pasture closes (whilst retaining the divisions in the earlier field system) also remain visible as low earthworks. All fence lines and posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 29893

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Goddard, A R, The Victoria History of the County of Bedfordshire, (1904), 422
Field system plotted from APs (SMR), Simco, A, Moat in Potsgrove Parish, (1981)
Map of Lovells Manor and closes, Lily, H, CRO R1/62, (1633)
Map of Lovells Manor, Lily, H, COR R1/62, (1633)
OS Antiquity Model, N K B, Lovellsbury Moat, (1972)
reference to unpubliched survey data, Coleman S & Baker D, Conversations with County Archaeologist and SMR Officer, (1993)
Tithe Map, COR MAT 36, (1845)

End of official listing