Moats Hall moated site


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017634

Date first listed: 23-Feb-1998


Ordnance survey map of Moats Hall moated site
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Jan-2019 at 23:22:53.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Suffolk

District: Waveney (District Authority)

Parish: St. Cross, South Elmham

National Grid Reference: TM 29488 84223


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.

Moats Hall moated site survives well; a large part of this moat, more than half of the total length, has undergone no modern disturbance, and the area of the central platform occupied by later buildings is relatively small. Deposits on the central island and in the fill of the moat will contain archaeological information concerning the construction and subsequent occupation of the moated site. Organic materials, including evidence for the local environment in the past, are likely to be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the moat. Evidence for earlier land use will also be contained in buried soils beneath the raised central platform. The monument has additional interest as one of the several rectorial moated sites which survive within the episcopal manor of South Elmham, among a variety of features which are of importance for the study of the medieval landscape and medieval settlement in the area.


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


The monument includes the moated site of a former rectory, situated 450m west of the church of St Cross on the south side of the valley of The Beck, a minor tributary of the River Waveney which runs 1km to the north west.

The moat, which ranges from approximately 6m to 9m in width and remains open to a depth of up to 2m, surrounds the western, southern and eastern sides and the north eastern corner of a sub-rectangular central platform with maximum internal dimensions of 87m east-west by 50m. The part of the northern arm of the moat which remains visible, extending westwards from the north east angle, is approximately 25m in length, open to a depth of around 1m, and is dry. Immediately to the west of this section is a sub-rectangular hollow, measuring approximately 25m east-west by 22m and up to 0.5m in depth, which is thought to represent an infilled moat terminal which was enlarged on the outer side to form a pond. This will survive as a buried feature and is included in the scheduling. Adjoining it to the west there will have been a causeway giving access to the interior. Much of the eastern arm of the moat is seasonally wet and the southern arm, part of which is said to have been redug to make a garden water feature, remains water-filled, fed by surface drainage. Towards the southern end of the eastern arm there is a bay approximately 8m wide and 5m deep in the outer edge, and at the western end of the southern arm, projecting from the outer edge, the remains of an external pond are visible as a hollow in the ground surface measuring approximately 9m north-south by 4m. The northern end of the western arm has been infilled, but the buried remains are marked by a slight linear depression in the surface of the track which crosses it.

The central platform is raised at the southern end approximately 0.3m above the level of the prevailing ground surface, and buried structural remains have been observed on the eastern part of it. The former rectory, which stands on on the northern side, is of 19th century date, and was built to replace an earlier house on the site. This building is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

The monument is one of several rectorial moated sites in the different parishes which made up the manor of South Elmham. The manor was held in the later 11th century by the Bishop of Thetford, and subsequently, until the Reformation, by the Bishops of Norwich, one of whose country seats was at South Elmham Hall, 1.4km to the south east. The other rectorial moated sites and the moated site at South Elmham Hall are the subjects of separate schedulings

The house, the adjoining outbuildings, yard walls and surfaces, the supports for an oil tank, inspection chambers, the surfaces of driveways, all fence and gateposts, the supports of a rustic pergola, service poles with associated stays, and the pipes and concrete and brick outlets of drains which issue into the western arm of the moat, 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: 30523

Legacy System: RSM


Lewis, Major J A , (1997)
NMR TM 28 SE 12, (1973)

End of official listing