Moated site 350m south of Dorrington Farm


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


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. 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.

Epping Forest (District Authority)
Epping Upland
Epping Forest (District Authority)
North Weald Bassett
National Grid Reference:
TL 45362 06638

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.

Despite some infilling of the southern arm of the moat and the southern ends of the eastern and western arms, the moated site 350m south of Dorrington Farm survives well. The island will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to the period of occupation. The buried silts in the base of the ditch, and particularly in the infilled sections, will contain artefacts relating to the period of occupation and environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which the monument was set.

Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow-moving fresh water constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish in order to provide a constant and sustainable food supply. The tradition of construction and use of 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 medieval society, and are considered important as a source of information concerning the economy of various classes of medieval settlements and institutions. The fishpond on the island survives well and will provide further evidence for the economy and status of the site.

The monument lies in an area where moated sites are fairly numerous, and is situated in close proximity to three such sites, the moated site known as Marshalls in North Weald Bassett, 3.4km to the south east; Wynter's Farm, Magdalen Laver, 4.7km to the north east; and a moated site at Nazeing, 3.7km to the west. Comparisons between these sites and further examples from other regions, will provide valuable insights into the development of settlement and many other aspects of medieval society in England.


The monument includes a medieval moated site on Rye Hill Common, 350m south of Dorrington Farm.

The moated site includes a rectangular island measuring some 80m east-west by a minimum of 64m north-south, raised approximately 0.5m above the surrounding ground surface. The island is contained by a moat or ditch measuring approximately 2m in depth and up to 10m wide on the west, north, and east sides. The southern arm of the moat and the southern ends of the eastern and western arms have been infilled and are, together with the southern end of the island, now incorporated into the ploughed field to the south. An east- west aligned pond on the island, which measures 20m in length and up to 10m wide, is considered to be a fishpond. Further depressions and associated disturbance on the eastern side of the island are thought to have been created by buildings which were recorded on the 1920 Ordnance Survey map and which were still visible as foundations when the site was visited in 1973 by the Moated Sites Research Group.

The site, which is known locally as Foster's Farm, after the farm which formerly stood on the site, may be associated with a William Forster mentioned in documents dating from 1466.

All fences and gates 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Reaney, PH, Place names of Essex, (1935), 49
Stokes, A H, 'Moated Sites Research Group' in Moated Sites Research Group, (1973)
Title: Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1920 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Essex Record Office


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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