Moated site immediately south east of Blake Mere


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


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

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Whitchurch Urban
National Grid Reference:
SJ 55979 42454

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.

Although parts of the moated site immediately south east of Blake Mere have been modified and disturbed in modern times it remains a good example of this class of monument.

The moated island will retain structural and artefactual evidence of the buildings that once stood on the site, which together with the artefacts and organic remains existing in the moat will provide valuable evidence about the occupation and social status of the inhabitants. Organic remains surviving in the buried ground surface under the raised interior and in the moat will also provide information and the changes to the local environment and use of the land before and after the moated site was constructed. The archaeological excavation has helped to demonstate the nature of the structural sequences existing here, and has provided information about the length of occupation and the degree to which buried remains survive. The importance of the site is further enhanced by documentary sources which provide ownership information.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval moated site situated in a prominent position overlooking a natural pool known as Blake Mere, and with extensive views of the countryside to the south east.

Documentary sources indicate that a manor house belonging to the Le Strange family existed here in the 12th century. It passed to the Talbots in the 14th century, and in 1383 was the birthplace of John Talbot, the first Earl of Shrewsbury. The Talbot family sold the manor in 1590 and by the end of the following century the house was in ruins.

The moated site was constructed on ground which rises from south to north, alongside the former edge of Blake Mere. This natural pool is likely to have served as a fishpond, although it is not included in the scheduling. Three of the four moat arms that define the island survive as visible earthworks and are now dry. The south western arm has been infilled but survives as a buried feature. The north western and south eastern arms are about 14m wide, the north eastern arm is about 20m wide and the width of the south western arm was probably similar to the arm on the opposite side. Material excavated from the moat has been used to raise the surface of the island up to 2m above the level of the surrounding land. The island measures approximately 56m north west - south east. Quarrying for soil in modern times has modified the original south western side of the island and has resulted in the formation of an irregular scarp along this side. From the adjacent moat arms it would appear that the island originally measured about 60m south west - north east.

A series of slit trenches each about a metre wide run across the western and northern parts of the island. These trenches, and other associated hollows and mounds, are the remnants of modern small-scale excavations. In 1963 a trench was dug across the south eastern moat arm. During this investigation artefacts dating between the 12th and 16th centuries were discovered, together with the remains of two 16th century retaining walls.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Watson, M, Musson, C, Shropshire from the Air. Man and the Landscape, (1993), 68
Griffiths, R W, 'Shropshire Newsletter' in Excavations at Blakemere Castle, Whitchurch, , Vol. 24, (1963), 2


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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