Moated site in Bower Wood, 560m south west of Bower Wood Cottages


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017478

Date first listed: 11-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Moated site in Bower Wood, 560m south west of Bower Wood Cottages
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Buckinghamshire

District: South Bucks (District Authority)

Parish: Hedgerley

National Grid Reference: SU 95370 88496


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 in Bower Wood is a very well preserved example of the single island type, its size and the simplicity of its design perhaps reflecting a specialised use. The island will retain archaeological evidence for the buildings which stood there and for other features relating to the period of use. Artefacts illustrating the date and duration of this use and the status of its inhabitants will be preserved here, and in the deep silts of the moat which may also contain environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which it was set. The fishpond attached to the moat is a significant indication of the status of the site. The tradition of creating artificial pools of slow moving water for the purpose of cultivating and storing fish began in the medieval period and reached a peak of popularity in the 12th century. The ponds provided a constant and sustainable food supply which also enabled compliance with religious dietary requirements. They are a characteristic feature of a wide range of religious and secular settlements, although largely the province of the wealthier and more influential sectors of society. On sites such as Bower Wood the fishpond was almost certainly used in conjunction with the moat itself, the pond acting as a breeding place from which to replenish the stock. The pond here survives well, retaining evidence for the management of the water level and containing deep deposits of silt which will preserve artefactual and environmental evidence related to the period of use.


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


The monument includes both a small medieval moated site and adjoining fishpond situated on the floor of a shallow valley separating Bower Wood from Burtley Wood, some 0.7km to the south of Junction 2 on the M40 near Beaconsfield. The greater part of the site lies to the south of a seasonal stream course which follows the valley as it descends to the south east, and which occasionally flows through the north eastern arm of the moat. The island is roughly rectangular, enclosed by a pronounced internal bank with breaks on all but the south western side. The internal area measures c.20m along the longer WSW-ENE axis by 11m, and contains minor undulations which suggest the position of former structures towards the western side. A slight depression runs across south eastern side of the island leading from the gap in the north eastern bank suggesting that this served as the original entrance. In the absence of a causeway, access to the island is thought to have been provided by a bridge at this point. The encircling moat averages 7m in width and 1.5m deep on three sides, with steep sides and deep deposits of humic silt in the base. The fourth side (to the south west) is partly infilled and appears as only a slight depression. External banks, perhaps the result of successive ditch cleaning, flank the two longer sides. The fishpond forms a continuation of the north eastern arm of the moat, extending for some 18m along the stream course to the south east and measuring about 12m in width. It is presently about 1m deep, and also contains deep deposits of accumulated leaf mould and silt. The southern end is partly blocked by a low earthen dam, which allows a narrow outflow channel to drain into the marshy land to the south east. A wooden sluice may have originally been employed in this gap (at the north eastern end of the dam) to maintain the water level in the pond and moat, and hurdles or nets staked across the northern end of the pond would have been sufficient to contain the stock. Evidence for both features is thought likely to survive buried within the basal silts. There is no direct documentary evidence for the moated site. It may, however, be associated with a deer park located to the south of Beaconsfield which was recorded in a grant of land by Duncan de Lascelles around AD 1200. The scale of the site and its remote location may indicate its use as a hunting lodge.

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: 27198

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cantor, L M, Hatherly, J, 'Records of Bucks' in The Medieval Parks of Buckinghamshire, , Vol. 20, (1977), 431-49
Miller, D D, Miller, D M, 'Records of Bucks' in Hartly Court Moat and Enclosure, , Vol. 20, (1978), 537
Rains, M J, 'Records of Bucks' in A Moated Site at Bower Wood, Beaconsfield, (1981), 125-8
Rains, M J, 'Records of Bucks' in A Moated Site at Bower Wood, Beaconsfield, (1981), 125-8
Discussion with CAO, Farley, M, (1995)
MPP schedule entry - SM:27153, Went, D, Moated Site 140m North West of Chalfont Lodge, (1995)

End of official listing