Moated site of Old Berghersh House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017908

Date first listed: 25-May-1960

Date of most recent amendment: 27-Apr-1998


Ordnance survey map of Moated site of Old Berghersh House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Suffolk

District: Suffolk Coastal (District Authority)

Parish: Witnesham

National Grid Reference: TM 18116 52465


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 of Old Berghersh House survives well, with all parts of the moat intact and the central island unencumbered by modern buildings. Remains of the house and associated buildings, together with other features and deposits relating to the original construction and earlier use of the site will be preserved below the level of the old ploughsoil. Organic materials, including evidence for the local environment in the past, are likely to be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the moat and external pond.


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


The monument includes the moated site of Old Berghersh House, located on level ground 1.5km north of the village and parish church of Witnesham, which lie in the valley of the River Fynn below.

The moat, which is water-filled, steep-sided and ranges in width between approximately 8m and 12.5m, surrounds a sub-rectangular central island with maximum internal dimensions of 75m east-west by 70m. The eastern end of the northern arm of the moat is enlarged to form a rectangular external pond which measures approximately 22m north-south by 27.5m east-west and is thought to be an original feature.

Another pond, formed by an enlargement of the south east external angle of the moat but now largely silted, is visible as a hollow about 0.75m deep in the ground surface. Access to the interior is provided by causeways across the southern ends of the eastern and western arms of the moat, although the dished profiles of both these features is evidence that they were created by infilling sections of the moat, probably to replace an earlier bridge. Evidence for the substantial house which once stood on the central island includes a large quantity of broken clay roof tiles and other building material which was exposed on the surface when the site was ploughed. The location of the house and associated buildings is indicated by the recorded distribution of these finds, concentrated across the eastern half of the island as a whole and along the northern and southern sides. Pottery fragments found on the surface have been dated to between the 13th and 15th centuries.

The water supply to Berghersh Farm House (now Berghersh Place), which was built in 1810, was formerly pumped from the moat, and a brick structure, thought to be part of a filter chamber and included in the scheduling, is visible in the outer side of the western arm of the moat.

Modern gate and fence posts and a service pole near the inner edge of the southern arm of the moat are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 21401

Legacy System: RSM


Notes in file, Witnesham, Berghersh House; WTN 002, (1987)

End of official listing