St Andrew's College and moat, 440m north east of College Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of St Andrew's College and moat, 440m north east of College Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Selby (District Authority)
Acaster Selby
National Grid Reference:
SE 57858 41817

Reasons for Designation

The term college is used to describe a variety of different types of establishment whose communities of secular clergy shared a degree of common life less strictly controlled than that within a monastic order. Although some may date to as early as the tenth century, the majority of English colleges were founded in the 14th or 15th centuries. Most were subsequently closed down under the Chantries Act of 1547. Colleges of the prebendal or portional type were set up as secular chapters, both as an alternative to the structure of contemporary monastic houses and to provide positions for clerics whose services the monastic establishment wished to reward. Some barons followed suit by setting up colleges within their castles, while others were founded by the Crown for the canons who served royal free chapels. Foundations of this type were generally staffed by prebends or portioners (priests taking their income from the tithes, or other income deriving from a village or manor). After 1300, chantry colleges became more common. These were establishments of priests, financed from a common fund, whose prime concern was to offer masses for the souls of the patron and the patron's family. They may also have housed bedesmen (deserving poor and elderly) and provided an educational facility which in some cases eventually came to dominate their other activities. From historical sources it is known that approximately 300 separate colleges existed during the early medieval and medieval period; of these, 167 were in existence in 1509, made up of 71 prebendal or portional colleges, 64 chantry colleges and 32 whose function was primarily academic. In view of the importance of colleges in contributing to our understanding of ecclesiastical history, and given the rarity of known surviving examples, all identified colleges which retain surviving archaeological remains are considered to be nationally important.

St Andrews College retains extensive earthworks of buildings, including the chapel, which would have formed the focus of the site. It also retains the well preserved earthworks of an associated moated enclosure. Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England, generally constructed to form dry areas of ground for prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences, with the moat forming a status symbol. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350, although they were constructed throughout the medieval period. Moats exhibit a wide variety of forms and did not always enclose buildings. Some were constructed to surround gardens. There is no evidence of building remains on the moated island at St Andrews and thus it may have been used for horticulture. Moats form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside.


The monument includes the earthworks of a late medieval secular college with an associated moated enclosure. It is sited on a spur of slightly higher ground on the north bank of the River Ouse, north east of Acaster Selby. The college was founded in 1470 by Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells, for a provost and three fellows in priests' orders acting as schoolmasters. In an Act of Parliament in the reign of Richard III (1483-85), the college was noted as holding an estate of 40 acres in Nether Acaster. In 1535 the endowments of the college were valued at thirty three pounds, ten shillings and four pence gross and in 1546 as thirty five pounds, twelve shillings and eleven and a half pence. The institution was dissolved c.1548, but the schoolmaster William Gegoltson was retained as a master and curate with a fixed annual salary of eight pounds, to serve the 200 residents of Acaster. Gegoltson was still carrying out his work in 1571. The moated site lies on the highest ground, forming the northern part of the monument. It is roughly square, forming an island approximately 60m across, except that the northern arm of the moat diverges from the parallel as it runs eastwards. As the northern arm diverges by the width of the moat ditch, it is suspected that the original intention was to build a square moat and that a simple setting out error was made during construction. The moat ditch is well preserved, typically 1.5m deep with a slight external bank, drained by a narrow run off channel cut from the eastern arm to the drain along the eastern field boundary. The moat ditch cuts across earlier ridge and furrow which is 7m-8m wide (furrow to furrow), running roughly parallel with the northern field boundary. This ridge and furrow is fainter within the moated enclosure than outside to the east, but is still discernible. It is thought that the land surface within the enclosure would have been levelled upwards with the upcast from the moat ditch to produce an island of dryer land. There is a causeway across the western end of the southern moat arm leading to a set of building remains. These form an area of hummocky ground on a building platform about half the size of the moated enclosure, extending along the full length of the southern moat arm. The ridge and furrow is overlain by the moat and the building remains, which must therefore be features of a later date. The earthworks are the footings of the main college buildings which include two building ranges to the north and west of a cruciform chapel. Large quantities of decayed brick and tile, some with attached mortar, lie in mole hills across the area. Down slope and to the east of the main building platform, equidistant between the south east corner of the moat and the corner of the field, lie the earthworks of an 8m square building on a small building platform. A further levelled area, but without evidence of buildings or ridge and furrow, lies just to the west of the moat. All post and wire fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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.

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Books and journals
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), indexed
Le Patourel, H.E J, 'Monograph Series No 5' in The Moated Sites of Yorkshire, , Vol. 5, (1973), 121


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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