Abbey Hills moated site


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Abbey Hills moated site
© 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.

East Lindsey (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TF 45134 54854

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 remains of Abbey Hills moated site survive particularly well in the form of a series of substantial earthworks, which together with surviving historical documentation and recorded finds indicate a site of high status. The monument has remained largely under pasture and has only been partly excavated resulting in good preservation of buried deposits. In addition the waterlogged nature of the eastern and western stretches of the moat indicates high potential for the survival of organic remains. As a result of the survival of historical documentation relating to the site, the remains are quite well understood and provide a good opportunity for understanding the development and utilization of a large, high status moated site.


The monument includes a medieval moated site situated at Abbey Hills approximately 1km WSW of the village of Friskney. The remains include the earthworks of a broad discontinuous moat enclosing a roughly rectilinear island c.1.1ha in area. The western side of the moat is up to 2m in depth, 10m in width and continues for approximately 137m on a NNW-SSE axis. The northern side of the moat runs for up to 100m on an ENE-WSW axis, although subsequent farming activity has reduced it to only approximately 7.5m in width. The north eastern side of the moat, similar in profile and dimensions to the western side, runs for 135m on a NNW-SSE axis before turning sharply north east and continuing for approximately 27.5m up to a modern field hedge. A narrow ditch following the hedge line south east from this point is considered to represent the original course of the moat, which was partly in- filled and recut in the post-medieval period as a drainage ditch. A small causeway approximately 5m wide crossing the moat 25m south of the north eastern corner of the monument is considered to represent the original entrance. The construction of a modern field boundary approximately 25m east of the moat has preserved an area of buried deposits in direct association with the causeway. On the south east side of the monument the field ditch interpreted as representing the original course of the moat turns sharply south west and continues for a further 30m on this alignment before looping north west for a distance of approximately 65m. A linear channel about 5m in width linking the south western and north eastern courses of the moat forms a small sub-rectangular island approximately 40m by 30m in the south eastern corner of the monument. At this point, the inner edge of the moat appears to diverge from the field boundary, forming a broad, shallow depression which continues WSW for up to 100m to link up with the western side of the moat.

On the northern side of the island within the moat are two parallel linear depressions 25m apart, both approximately 35m in length, 8m in width and 2.5m in depth which are thought to represent ponds. These are linked to the northern side of the moat by narrow linear depressions interpreted as water control features in the form of inlet channels. A rectangular platform c.20m by 3m cut into the bank above the eastern depression is considered to delineate the foundation of a building. On the north western side of the island parallel with the moat another sub-rectangular platform approximately 13m by 5m is also considered to represent the location of a building. A sub- circular depression 5m to the north west of the second platform measuring approximately 9m by 7m and 1.2m in depth is interpreted as representing the foundation or cellar of a structure facing the northern side of the moat. A levelled rectangular platform approximately 35m by 40m bordering the western side of the moat and delineated to the north, south and west by slight banks up to 0.6m high is considered to suggest the presence of a yard. The banks are interpreted as defining the location of three ranges of structures around the yard in the form of outbuildings or a house contemporary with the moat. A more undulating area to the east is thought to suggest evidence of agricultural activity.

A small causeway considered to represent a modern field trackway now crosses the western side of the moat and leads into a second sub-rectangular area approximately 130m by 55m, the northern, southern and western sides of which are defined by a field ditch up to 2m in width. The remains include a linear feature comprising four linked sub-circular depressions up to 2m in depth which run parallel with the western side of the moat on an approximately NNW-SSE axis for a distance of 80m. These appear to have been connected to the northern and southern field ditches by narrow channels about 2.5m in width which are interpreted as water control features in the form of inlet and outlet leats.

The monument is considered to represent a medieval house, farm and associated ponds enclosed within a moat. A document of mid-13th century origins details extensive land holdings in the Friskney area belonging to the Benedictine Abbey of St Oswald, Bardney. The name of the field in which the monument is situated, recorded as early as 1829, is considered to suggest some connection with the abbey. Documentary sources from the 19th century record chance finds including fragments of mullioned windows, stained glass, pillar bases and the existence of a small circular room entered by stone steps. Traces of a paved causeway believed to be aligned with Friskney church were also recovered.

All fences 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:
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Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire
Oldfield, E, Topographical and Historical Account of Wainfleet, (1829)
White, W, Directory of Lincolnshire, (1872)
RCHME, NMR Complete Listing: TF 45 SE 1,


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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