Moated site and fishponds at Church Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1016994
Date first listed: 07-May-1948
Date of most recent amendment: 10-Aug-1999
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Cheltenham (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SO 94135 19479
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.
A fishpond is an artificially created pool of slow moving freshwater constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to provide a constant and sustainable supply of food. They may be dug into the ground, embanked above ground level, or formed by placing a dam across a narrow valley. Groups of up to twelve ponds variously arranged in a single line or in a cluster and joined by leats have been recorded. The ponds may be of the same size or of several different sizes with each pond being stocked with different species or ages of fish. The size of the pond was related to function, with large ponds thought to have had a storage capability whilst smaller, shallower ponds were used for fish cultivation and breeding. Fishponds were maintained by a water management system which included inlet and outlet channels carrying water from a river or a stream, a series of sluices set into the bottom of the dam and along the channels and leats, and an overflow leat which controlled fluctuations in water flow and prevented flooding. Buildings for use by fishermen or for the storage of equipment, and islands possibly used for fishing, wildfowl management or as shallow spawning areas, are also recorded. The tradition of constructing and using fishponds in England began during the medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. They were largely built by the wealthy sectors of society with monastic institutions and royal residences often having large and complex fishponds. The difficulties of obtaining fresh meat in the winter and the value placed on fish in terms of its protein content and as a status food may have been factors which favoured the development of fishponds and which made them so valuable. The practice of constructing fishponds declined after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century although in some areas it continued into the 17th century. Most fishponds fell out of use during the post-medieval period although some were re-used as ornamental features in 19th and early 20th century landscape parks or gardens, or as watercress beds. Documentary sources provide a wealth of information about the way fishponds were stocked and managed. The main species of fish kept were eel, tench, pickerel, bream, perch, and roach. Large quantities of fish could be supplied at a time. Once a year, probably in the spring, ponds were drained and cleared. Fishponds are widely scattered throughout England and extend into Scotland and Wales. The majority are found in central, eastern and southern parts and in areas with heavy clay soils. Fewer fishponds are found in coastal areas and parts of the country rich in natural lakes and streams where other sources of fresh fish were available. Although 17th century manuals suggest that areas of waste ground were suitable for fishponds, in practice it appears that most fishponds were located closes to villages, manors or monasteries or within parks so that a watch could be kept on them to prevent poaching. Although approximately 2000 examples are recorded nationally, this is thought to be only a small proportion of those in existence in medieval times. Despite being relatively common, fishponds are important for their associations with other classes of medieval monument and in providing evidence of site economy.
The moated site at Church Farm survives well and is unencumbered by later buildings. Buried deposits on the island will include the remains of medieval structures, and will contain archaeological information relating to the construction and subsequent occupation and use of the moated site. Within the moat and fishponds, waterlogged deposits will preserve archaeological remains relating to the occupation and use of the site, along with organic material which will provide information about the economy of the site and the local environment during the medieval period. The partial excavation carried out in the 1930s has shown that occupation of the site continued from the 12th century to the 16th century and has given an indication of the archaeological potential of the monument.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes a moated site and two fishponds set on level ground at
Church Farm. It is visible as a rectangular four-armed moat enclosing an
island measuring about 42m by 22m, orientated north west-south east. The moat
is 13m wide at its widest point and up to 4m deep. There is an external bank,
about 0.5m high and 5m wide, running alongside the south western arm. The
south eastern arm and south corner of the moat have been infilled, but will
survive as buried features. The island is level with the surrounding fields,
and earthworks are visible on the island, indicating that earlier structures
will survive as buried remains. Earlier maps of the Leckhampton area show two
fishponds lying close to the north west corner of the moat. The northernmost
of the ponds measures 18m north east-south west by 7m, while the pond to the
south measures 16m north east-south west by 8m. These fishponds are no longer
visible at ground level, having become infilled over the years, but will
survive as buried features.
The moated site at Church Farm was partially excavated in 1933 by Major JGN
Clift. During these investigations, pottery of 12th and 13th century was
recovered, along with roof ridge tiles of 14th-16th century date. The remains
of a wooden bridge with stone abuttments dating from the first half of the
14th century were also revealed on the north east arm of the moat.
The wooden fencing on the island and to the north and west of the moat, the
wood and wire fence across the north eastern arm of the moat along with all
wooden stiles 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. 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: 32363
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Clift, J G N, 'Trans. of the Bristol and Glos. Arch. Society' in Leckhampton Moat, , Vol. LV, (1933), 235-48
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