Part of the moated medieval manor of Wardley and associated rig and furrow, held by Durham Priory and first documented in 1264. The site survives as a series of earthworks and buried deposits.
Reasons for Designation
The remains of Wardley medieval moated site and associated rig and furrow cultivation are scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: although moated sites are widespread in England overall, they are rare in the north east;
* Association: Wardley is a significant example of a high status settlement associated with Durham Priory;
* Survival: the site is well-preserved with pronounced earthworks and is considered to have favourable conditions for the survival of significant organic deposits;
* Potential: the high status settlement will inform our understanding of medieval wealth, status and economy in the countryside in a region where sites of this nature are few.
The manor of Wardley was held by Durham Priory; the first reference to the manor was in 1264 when Prior Hugh de Derlington erected a camera, hall and chapel, which was destroyed by the Scots. In 1313 it was assigned to William de Tanfield on his resignation as prior of Durham. Medieval accounts note a kitchen, dovecot, bovaria, byre, stable, henhouse, herringhouse, farina and bridge. References in the 19th century show that it also had fishponds within the moated area. The medieval accounts indicate that it may also have supplied fish and agricultural produce to Durham Priory. The original extent of the enclosure is reported as 220 yards north west to south east by 150 yards south west to north east, enclosing some six acres and thirty-five perches. The manor has an almost unbroken series of leases into the mid-18th century. The manor was subdivided into five farms in the 18th century and this had certainly been accomplished by 1783.
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. Moated sites are rare in the historic counties of Durham and Northumberland.
The site was surveyed by Archaeological Practice, Newcastle University in 1996, and in 1994 its eastern arm (north of Bowes Railway) was partially excavated to understand the filling sequence of the moat ditch, so that modern layers could be removed as part of the new landscaping works.
Principal elements: a medieval, manorial moated site with associated rig and furrow cultivation, surviving as a series of earthworks and buried deposits.
Description: the visible earthworks include the southern part of an enclosure, defined by a bank and a moat, surrounded by areas of ridge and furrow produced by medieval arable cultivation. The original western boundary of the moated site is visible in the west corner of the field immediately north of the farm. Here the moat has an internal and external bank, standing 0.5m high. The outer edge of the external bank is about 10m from the moat. The external bank can be seen on the south and east sides of the enclosure. The internal bank can be seen on the south side of the enclosure before it becomes obscured by accumulated 19th century refuse. On the east side and in parts of the south side of the enclosure the accumulated refuse stands 1m higher than the surrounding surface and infills the moat area. The remains of two fishponds, depicted on the first edition Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map, survive beneath further accumulated refuse. The moated site continues beneath the Bowes Railway comprising a section of the western and eastern arms of the moat and part of the island. The eastern arm of the moat continues north of the Bowes Railway visible as a deep and wide earthwork together with a section of the eastern part of the island immediately within the moat. The ditch and the section of island in this area measure about 22m across.
Extent of scheduling: the Bowes Railway is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.