Moated site at Watton Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Moated site at Watton Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Brentwood (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 53164 95211

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 at Watton Farm is a good example of the single island type which retains clear evidence for the water management system. Despite some alterations to the monument, particularly the infilling of one section of the ditch and the clearance of some of the later silts, the greater part of the site has survived with minimal disturbance. Environmental evidence may be recovered from the undisturbed silts in the base of the moat, illustrating the appearance of the landscape in which the monument was set. Buried remains of buildings on the island itself will provide evidence for the function and economy of the site, and artefacts buried on the island and in the fills of the ditch will provide valuable evidence for the date of construction, the duration of subsequent use, and for the lifestyle and status of the site's inhabitants. The monument lies in an area in which villages and hamlets were extremely scarce in the medieval period. Moated sites, on the other hand, were quite numerous and provide the evidence for our understanding of the character of settlement and land use. Comparisions between these sites will allow detailed study of the development of this settlement form and illustrate chronological and social variations.


The monument includes a small medieval moated site located immediately east of Watton Farm, on the north side of the road known as Horseman Side which marks the southern boundary of Navestock Common. The moated island is narrow and rectangular, measuring approximately 55m east to west and 18m north to south, and surrounded on all but the western side by a seasonally wet ditch varying between 5m and 9m in width and averaging 1.5m in depth. The base of the ditch contains deep deposits of humic silt, some of which has accumulated since the arms were partly cleaned in the 1970s. The fourth arm of the ditch is not visible above ground but is thought to survive as a buried feature beneath a patio alongside the farmhouse. The southern arm of the moat is linked to a shallow drainage ditch running to the north east parallel to the road, a 2m length of which is included in the scheduling in order to protect the archaeological relationship at this junction. The main water supply to the moat, however, is thought to have been provided by a buried leat which enters the north eastern corner of the moat and extends across the adjacent pasture for a distance of 80m where it joins with an existing hedgerow ditch. This feature, and the low mound of upcast flanking its western edge, is also included in the scheduling. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the brick retaining wall at the north west terminal of the moat, the surfaces of the patio and paths and all fences and fence posts; the ground beneath these features is, however, 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:
Legacy System:


Antiquity Model and notes (SMR 626), Ordnance Survey, TQ 59 085, (1975)
Gazeteer in Essex SMR files., Medieval Settlements Research Group, TQ 59 NW Watton Farm. Moated Sites in Essex, (1975)


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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