Moated site immediately north west of St Mary's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017283

Date first listed: 30-Aug-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Feb-2000


Ordnance survey map of Moated site immediately north west of St Mary's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: North Dorset (District Authority)

Parish: Tarrant Rushton

National Grid Reference: ST 93709 06102


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 immediately north west of St Mary's Church is a comparatively well preserved example of its class in an area of the country where such sites are rare. It will contain archaeological and environmental remains providing information about medieval society, economy and landscape.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site on the eastern bank of the River Tarrant immediately north west of St Mary's Church, which sits on a terrace about 1m above the level of the river. A rectangular platform, 52m by 40m, is enclosed by the River Tarrant on the western side and a ditch on the other side. On the northern and southern sides of the platform, the ditch has inner and outer banks, whilst on the eastern side it has only an inner ditch. The earthworks have been partially levelled and disturbed over the years by garden features and other activities. The ditch, now visible only on the northern and eastern sides, is very irregular, up to 8m wide and 1.5m deep at the south eastern corner. The inner and outer banks are most clearly visible on the northern side although short sections of bank are visible on the southern side. No outer bank would have been necessary on the eastern side because the river terrace rises 1m above the level of the moat. The inner bank is up to 9m wide and 0.5m high while the outer bank is up to 10m wide and 0.3m high. There is a 9m gap in the inner bank but no corresponding gap in the outer bank on the northern side. At the south eastern corner of the enclosure there is a gap between the end of the eastern ditch and the southern outer bank perhaps to allow access from the site to the church. This suggests that there would have been an entrance on the southern side as well. Two irregular platforms at right angles to eachother on the inner bank at the north eastern corner of the site may represent the site of a building. Slight earthworks are visible on the ground surface at the southern end of the site; these may be old garden features. There is an old water channel leading from the river towards the centre of the site, which may have been part of the water meadow system, still visible to the north of the moated site. The site was formerly thought to be that of a religious house or hospital dedicated to St Leonard mentioned in medieval documents, but there appears to be no evidence to connect this reference with Tarrant Rushton. All fence and gate posts, the pole supporting overhead wires, and the livestock sheds and pens are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 33540

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Drew, C D, 'Proceedings of the Dorset Nat Hist and Archaeological Society' in The House of St Leonard of Rushton, Dorset, , Vol. 64, (1942), 34-42

End of official listing