Two moated sites adjoining All Saints' Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017633

Date first listed: 16-Jan-1998


Ordnance survey map of Two moated sites adjoining All Saints' Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Suffolk

District: Waveney (District Authority)

Parish: All Saints and St. Nicholas, South Elmham

National Grid Reference: TM 32964 82842


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 north east of All Saints' Church survives well, with a variety of original features. The earthworks and the central island, the greater part of which is unencumbered by buildings, will retain archaeological information concerning the construction, occupation and use of the site during the medieval period and subsequently. Organic materials, including evidence for the local environment in the past, are likely to be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the moat and associated ponds.

The second, smaller moated site to the south west of All Saints' Church, although levelled and no longer visible as an earthwork, will also retain archaeological information, particularly in the moat ditch which is known to survive as a buried feature. It has additional interest as one of at least two interconnected moats and because of its association with the church.

The monument, together with the church, is one of various identifiable components of the local medieval landscape which are of importance for the study of settlement patterns in the nine parishes formerly known as the `liberty, manor or township of South Elmham'.


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


The monument includes a moated site located immediately to the north east of the churchyard of All Saints' Church together with the buried remains of a second, smaller moated site located approximately 93m south west of the first and adjacent to the opposite, south western end of the churchyard. The larger of the two is said to have been the site of the medieval manor house, once occupied by members of the Throgmorton family, and the second was probably occupied by the medieval rectory. The moated sites and church stand in an isolated position roughly 1km from All Saints' Common which became the main focus of settlement in the village during the medieval period, as it is today.

Both moated sites are rectangular in plan, aligned with their long axes approximately parallel to one another, and perpendicular to that of the rectangular churchyard between them. The larger of the two has overall dimensions of approximately 120m north west-south east by 78m. The moat, which contains water and ranges in width from around 5m on the south west side, to about 10m on the south east, surrounds all but the western corner of the central island, where it has been infilled but is thought to survive in part as a buried feature. A later pond, which is not included in the scheduling, extends over the site of the western angle itself. The western and northern quadrants of the central island and the south eastern half are separated by smaller ditches which have become partly infilled and are largely dry, varying in width between approximately 3m and 5m and with a visible depth of between 0.25m and 1m. Church Farmhouse and its associated buildings occupy the western quadrant. The house, which is dated to the 17th century, is Listed Grade II and is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included. At the eastern end of the island are two sub-rectangular internal ponds, both measuring approximately 12m by 10m which were perhaps used in the breeding and conservation of fish. One opens off the inner edge of the southern arm of the moat, and is connected to the second by a narrow channel which probably contained a sluice to control the flow of water between them. Another, external pond, measuring approximately 13m in length, extends north eastwards off the eastern angle of the moat.

The second moat has been infilled but survives as a buried feature beneath the modern ploughsoil and has produced crop marks which have been recorded by means of aerial photography. It is approximately 5m in width and surrounds a rectangular central island which, on the evidence of the recorded crop marks, originally measured approximately 70m north west-south east by 57m. The original south western arm of the moat was infilled at some time, however, and was replaced by a new arm on a similar alignment but some 17m to the north east, and it is the later arm which is recorded on 20th century Ordnance Survey maps of the site, although the original western end of the north western arm is shown as a detached linear pond. The moat around the south eastern corner had become largely infilled before the end of the 19th century, but remained visible as a slight earthwork which was recorded by aerial photography before the site was brought into arable cultivation. Various features associated with the moat will also survive beneath the modern ploughsoil, including a rectangular internal pond measuring approximately 25m in length north west-south east and 10m in width in the western quadrant of the central island. Evidence for occupation between the 13th and the 17th centuries, including fragments of medieval and early post-medieval pottery, has been found on the site.

The two moats were linked by a channel, also now infilled, which ran parallel to the north west side of the churchyard. It is likely that this feature and a partly infilled pond which remains visible as a depression in the ground surface around the eastern angle of the churchyard are the remains of features contemporary with the moats, and both are therefore included in the scheduling, together with the strip of land approximately 10m wide which lies between the north eastern boundary of the churchyard and the south western arm of the eastern moat.

Church Farmhouse, an associated barn which is Listed Grade II, and other sheds and outbuildings and all modern paving, all modern surfaces of yards, driveways and paths, inspection chambers, a hydrant, the supports of a fruit cage, all fence posts and gates, and the remains of two wooden footbridges are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is 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: 30521

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Barker, H R, East Suffolk Illustrated, (1909), 151
CUCAP LG 15, (1953)
SAU AGR 10, (1977)

End of official listing