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 monument is an unusually large elliptical moated site of the Royal Manor
of Feckenham and the court of the Forest of Feckenham. The site is first
documented in a land charter of AD 802 which suggests that the site has
Anglo-Saxon origins. This and the good level of documentation from Domesday
until the 17th century, which document the high status and various periods of
development of the site, also contribute to the importance of the monument.
Limited excavations before 1971 have indicated a high level of survival of
archaeological deposits representing several phases of domestic occupation.
The monument includes the surviving buried and earthwork remains of Feckenham
Court House, a medieval manorial moated site where the court of the Forest of
Feckenham was held. Feckenham Manor, a high status Anglo-Saxon manor from
about AD 804, had passed to the Crown by the time of the Domesday survey.
The manor was held by the Crown for several centuries with references made to
royal buildings on the site. The manor house was repaired in 1355 but was
later demolished and the buildings removed by the Abbot of Evesham. The
monument became the site of the court proceedings associated with Feckenham
Forest. A prison, known as Bennets' Bower, is documented at the site, where in
the 16th century manorial courts were also held. The court house fell into
disrepair following deforestation in the 17th century.
During the reign of Charles II the site was planted and used to grow tobacco.
The moated site, covering 1.62ha, is larger and more heavily fortified than
many manorial moated sites. Its boundary takes the form of an elliptical
earthwork approximately 220m by 120m, orientated east-west, consisting of
an outer ditch or moat enclosing two concentric earthwork banks separated by a
ditch. The moat is deepest on the northern side (2m to 3m), elsewhere it
measures 1m to 2m deep. The eastern part of the moat has been largely infilled
or levelled with domestic buildings being inserted into the external moat in
the north east quadrant; these areas are not included in the scheduling. The
double bank and ditch are clearly visible in the north west quadrant; in the
south west quadrant the double bank and ditch separate creating an inner berm.
In the south east quadrant the double bank and ditch are no longer evident and
the outer moat diminishes to become a boundary ditch, which continues as far
as the village development at the south east, south and north east of the
In 1968 the earthworks of several buildings could be discerned in the interior
or island of the moat, but the interior of the monument is now largely level
and is used as a sports ground. The only surviving original entrance point,
partly infilled, is in the centre of the northern entrenchment. An excavation
across a raised platform in the northern half of the monument revealed
occupation dating from the mid-12th to mid-14th centuries, with traces of both
timber and stone buildings.
The modern sports changing room may obscure some of the features previously
recorded near the centre of the northern earthworks. A modern breach has been
made across the earthworks in the north west quadrant.
All modern buildings, the sports pavillion, goal posts, garden furniture and
the surface of all paths are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath these features is included.
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.