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Gesyns: moated site 600m south east of Elms Farm

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Gesyns: moated site 600m south east of Elms Farm

List entry Number: 1017885

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cambridgeshire

District: East Cambridgeshire

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Ashley

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 13-Oct-1980

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Mar-1998

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 29710

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.

Gesyns is a well preserved and largely undisturbed moated site of unusual form. The simple layout implies that it was constructed for a specific function. The exceptionally substantial ditch with its outer bank may indicate that the site originated early in the post-Conquest period. At this time there was a need both for defence and for strong visual statements of the intended permanence of the new Norman regime. Gesyns would seem to fulfill both requirements, particularly when considered with a second, similar site 500m to the south west.

The island will retain archaeological deposits relating to the dating, period of occupation and use of the site, such as building remains, yard surfaces, refuse pits and wells. The moat will contain environmental evidence to illustrate the nature of the landscape in which the monument was set.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the medieval moated site known as Gesyns, situated in woodland some 600m south east of Elms Farm.

The island is roughly kidney shaped in plan, measuring about 70m long by 50m wide. No features can be traced on the island other than a slight linear depression running east to west across the interior, which was probably intended to separate former buildings from an area of garden or herbary. The eastern end of this depression corresponds with traces of a causeway across the moat. This is thought to be the original entrance way, that to the south east being a modern construction.

The moat itself is substantial, measuring some 16m wide and up to 3m deep. Only the straight, northern arm is damp and it is thought that the moat was never intended to retain water. A low bank 1.3m high and varying between 2m and 6m in width follows the outer edge of the moat on all sides except the north. To the east the bank dips, again at a point level with the causeway.

The moated site takes its name from the de Guisnes family who held the manor of Ashley between 1166 and 1303. By 1338 the manor was held by the Knights Hospitallers under Roger de Dalton, a formar Templar. However, in 1356 a Roger de Guisnes witnessed a local land grant, implying that the de Guisnes family was still active in the area at this time.

A second moated site known as Sylhall is situated about 500m to the south west of Gesyns. No physical or documentary evidence can be traced to suggest a connection between the two sites, which were formerly in separate parishes and apparently attached to different manors. The moated site in Sylhall Plantation is the subject of a separate scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Fischer, S R, The Ashley Manuscripts, (1986)
Philips, C W, The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire, (1948), 261

National Grid Reference: TL 70605 61284

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1017885 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 19-Nov-2017 at 09:01:21.

End of official listing