Moated site in Bellamy's Grove


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


Ordnance survey map of Moated site in Bellamy's Grove
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Huntingdonshire (District Authority)
Abbots Ripton
National Grid Reference:
TL 24027 76460

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 Bellamy's Grove survives largely undisturbed and is one of the best preserved of its kind in the region. The island will contain buried evidence for former buildings and other features related to its period of occupation such as yard surfaces and refuse pits. The ditches will provide detailed information concerning the water management system and will contain waterlogged deposits from which both artefacts and environmental evidence can be retrieved. These will help to illustrate the development of the site, the lifestyle of its inhabitants and the landscape in which the monument was set. Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow-moving fresh water constructed for the purpose of breeding and storing fish in order to provide a consistent and sustainable supply of food. The tradition of constructing and using fishponds began in the medieval period and reached a peak of popularity in the 12th century. They were largely the province of the wealthier sectors of society, and are considered important as a source of information concerning the economy of various classes of medieval settlements and institutions. The fishponds at the Bellamy's Grove moated site form an integral part of the settlement, and represent an important component of the medieval landscape created to support its economy. The ponds are well-preserved visible features which, still containing water, may retain further waterlogged deposits relating both to their use and to the site in general.


The monument includes a medieval moated site situated 500m east of Wild Goose Leys Farm in a small wood known as Bellamy's Grove. The moat island is roughly trapezoidal in plan, with approximate measurements of between 90m and 100m east to west and 70m and 90m north to south. It is defined by a wide moat, now partly silted but still waterlogged in places. No leats (inflow and outflow channels) are apparent, and it is thought that the moat was filled from surface drainage and springs, perhaps being only seasonally wet. Traces of both outer and inner banks survive on all but the western side. To the south the outer bank still stands to a height of about 0.5m. Original access to the island is thought to have been via a bridge, while some infilling of the moat at the eastern corner may represent a later causeway. The interior of the island contains many surface irregularities which are considered to represent building platforms, although no structural remains survive above ground. The southern portion of the island contains two rectangular fishponds both of which still retain water. The smaller of the two is situated within the south eastern corner, and the larger is aligned with the southern arm of the moat. To the north of this latter pond is a conical mound. The base of the mound is about 10m in diameter decreasing to approximately 6m over a height of 1.5m. The summit is hollowed out, and the northern side has been cut away. Although this earthwork has formerly been interpreted as the site of a windmill, it is more likely to have originated as a garden feature, such as a prospect mound, or to have supported a dovecote. A third waterfilled pond towards the north western part of the island is thought to be of a later date than the southern ponds. It has been suggested that the moated site represents the focus of the post-medieval manor and hamlet of Esthorpe which had formed part of the main manor of Ripton, although the precise location and extent of the peripheral settlement is not known. The main manor, along with other lands in the parish, was held by Ramsey Abbey, but in 1541, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it was granted by the Crown to Sir John St John. Sir John subsequently settled the manor on his son Oliver, later Baron St John of Bletsoe, and in 1640 the manor was conveyed by the baron's son, the Earl of Bolingbroke, to Hugh Awdley. Litigation following Awdley's death in 1662 led to the property being split, but it was reintegrated by his descendants, Hugh and Susan Bonfoy, in 1686. Through his marriage to Susan, Sir Charles Caesar gained control of the manor, and it remained in the Caesar family until the late 18th century when it was acquired by William Henry Fellowes in whose family it has remained to the present day.

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
Ladds, S I, The Victoria History of the County of Huntingdon, (1926)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Huntingdon, (1932)
description of moated site, RCHM Huntingdonshire, (1926)
description of moated site, RCHM Huntingdonshire, (1926)


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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