Moated sites, settlement remains and associated field system 450m east of Southley Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Moated sites, settlement remains and associated field system 450m east of Southley Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 58250 59178

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the Cheshire Plain sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, a gently rolling plain of red marl covered by ice-carried clays, sands and gravels. It is diversified by occasional sandstone escarpments, notably the Central Cheshire Ridge east of the Dee valley. It has lower densities of nucleated settlements than surrounding areas, and high concentrations of dispersed farmsteads and small hamlets. In the Wirral and the lower Dee and Weaver valleys, the settlement mix is different, with low and medium densities of dispersed farmsteads intermixed with more frequent villages. Domesday Book records a thin scatter of settlement in the Wirral, the Dee lowlands and the central and southern plain in 1086, with much woodland.

The Cheshire Plain local region is marked by a wide range of settlement forms such as market towns, villages and scattered farmsteads. There are numerous small hamlets bearing the name 'green' associated with areas of common grazing land as well as moated sites. These types of settlement are known to have medieval roots although it is not yet clear which represent the oldest forms. 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 settlement at Southley with its common, moated manor house and associated field systems with a trace of the house platforms and cultivation plots survives well in spite of some later damage to the moat. The remains provide a relatively undisturbed view of a later medieval settlement and have not been ploughed down as in other areas of this region.


The monument includes a moated site and a larger moated platform together with headlands and ridge and furrow cultivation in the fields to the east of the moat. This represents the remains of the manor house of Southley and some of the open fields connected to the community, lying to the south of Southley Common. The Manor is mentioned in 1305 and a Southley Hall is named in 1494. The moat survives at the western end of the site. It was fed by a small brook from the south which formed fishponds on the south and west sides. The north and east arms of the moat are artificially created ditches, 18m across. The south and east arms of the moat have been partly infilled and disturbed by the excavations which took place when the present railway line was being built along the southern side of the site. The moat platform measures 22m by 53m. To the east of the moated manor house was a larger moated platform. This measures 78m wide at the eastern end and 103m long and has the bed of the brook as its southern edge and a ditch 5m wide along its other three sides. The northern side is partly obscured by a modern ditch which has been cut to form a field boundary and control a small brook which once flowed along that side of the moat. On the south western quarter of this moated platform there are traces of an enclosure within which a house would have stood. On the rest of the platform there are remains of ridge and furrow cultivation with intervals of 4.5m between the ridges. To the east of this large platform there are the remains of ridge and furrow cultivation which occupy the whole northern part of this field from the northern boundary to the brook edge. Through this area there is a hollow way which leads from the north east corner of the field towards the bridge across the railway line. Where the hollow way would have crossed the brook there is a large dressed sandstone block which may have formed one of the abutments for a bridge. To the south of the brook there is higher ground, crossed by areas of ridge and furrow cultivation and three possible house platforms with the hollow way running through them. These features are less well-defined than the features on the north side of the brook and may have been eroded by the traffic created when the railway was built. The surface of a trackway, formed of bricks and raised above the normal field level, is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

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


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Williams, S, West Cheshire from the Air, (1997)
Williams, J R, West Cheshire from the Air,


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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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