Moated site, Moat Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016701

Date first listed: 07-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Moated site, Moat Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Jan-2019 at 15:33:31.


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

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Aylesbury Vale (District Authority)

Parish: Pitstone

National Grid Reference: SP 94384 15184


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 Moat Farm survives well. Despite the construction of the carpark and the septic tank, the island remains largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to the earlier periods of occupation. The buried silts in the base of the ditches will contain both artefacts and environmental evidence relating to the period of occupation.

The monument, whose curved northern perimeter may reflect the adaptation of a natural feature, represents a variation on the more common square or rectangular moated sites which are relatively numerous in the area. Comparisons between these sites will provide valuable insights into the nature of settlement and society in the medieval period.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site at Moat Farm at the south east end of the village of Pitstone, and less than 1km to the west of the Chiltern Ridge.

The moated site includes a `D'-shaped island measuring a maximum of 142m north east-south west and up to 54m north west-south east. The island is contained by a seasonally wet moat which measures up to 20m wide, and between 2.5m and 4m in depth. An outer bank, 90m long, 12m wide and up to 2m in height, is visible on the south east side of the moat. The north eastern arm of the moat may represent the adaptation of a natural feature, since it joins with a steep natural channel which continues for a further 230m in a south easterly direction towards a spring. This watercourse, which is marked on the 1840 tithe map as Cowhill Spring, is not constant, and consequently the amount of water in the moat varies according to the time of year. A small sample of the spring gulley at its junction with the moat is included in the scheduling to preserve the archaeological relationship between the two features.

Access to the island is over a brick bridge, believed to be 19th century in date, which crosses the south western arm of the moat. The remains of a brick sluice, thought to be contemporary with the bridge, also extends across the south western arm of the moat. This feature no longer controls the release of water from the moat, and the outflow channel which continues west and north west to Pitstone Green is now largely infilled.

The moat is thought to mark the original site of Pitstone Manor which in 1086 was owned by Walter Giffard and held by Ralf de Langetot, and which by the 15th century was the capital messuage of the fee once called `Besevilles'. The house is Listed Grade II and is all that remains of Pitstone Manor, later known as Pitstone Place, the greater part of which was demolished in the 19th century. An 1810 pre-enclosure map identifies the area around the moat as `The Stank'.

Moat Farm house, the brick bridge, the tarmac carpark, the outhouses, the garage, the septic tanks, the lamp post and the garden furniture, together with the fences around the outside edge of the moat ditch, are all 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. 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: 32121

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1969), 406
Sheahan, J, History and Topography of Buckinghamshire, (1862), 725
Bull, E J, 'Records of Bucks' in A Medieval Settlement Area Adjacent to Pitstone Church, , Vol. 20, (1978), 654
Copy in SMR CAS file 2746, Dungworth, D, Pitstone: An Archaeological Parish Survey, (1991)
Copy in SMR CAS file 2746, Dungworth, D, Pitstone: An Archaeological Parish Survey, (1991)
Pitstone SP 91 NW 4/149,
Title: Pre-Enclosure Map Source Date: 1810 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: BRO MA/166/2R

End of official listing