Moated site 170m east of St Mary's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018393

Date first listed: 15-Dec-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Sep-1998


Ordnance survey map of Moated site 170m east of St Mary's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cambridgeshire

District: Huntingdonshire (District Authority)

Parish: Godmanchester

National Grid Reference: TL 24719 70722


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 170m east of St Mary's Church survives well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. Waterlogging in the moat indicates a high level of survival for organic remains, such as leather and wood, which will provide valuable evidence for domestic and economic activity on the site. The site has been the subject of historical research and is thus quite well understood. As a relatively high-status residence associated with a monastery, the buried remains of the house and associated features will provide an insight into the functioning of such an establishment in both a secular and an ecclesiastical context.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site approximately 170m east of St Mary's Church. The moated site is believed to be the site of a house belonging to the Prior of Merton, an Augustinian priory in Surrey which was founded in the early 12th century. The Church of St Mary at Godmanchester was granted to the Prior, with attached lands, by King Stephen (1135-54). The house is referred to in a document of 1276 and is depicted on a map of the early 16th century. In 1538 Merton Priory was dissolved and its lands in Godmanchester were given to Westminster Abbey. The house is thought to have been demolished soon afterwards.

The moated site takes the form of a large enclosure measuring up to 70m by 80m. It is bounded on the north east and north west sides by a ditch approximately 2m-3m in width and up to 2m deep; this feature represents the remains of a moat, now partly infilled, which formerly enclosed the site on all four sides. On the outside of the north eastern arm of the moat are the remains of an external bank, now surviving to a height of approximately 0.5m. A shallow linear depression running along the south eastern side of the enclosure marks the location of a part of the moat which was infilled in the mid-20th century but which survives as a buried feature. The enclosure is bounded on the south west side by the remains of a further arm of the moat which was largely infilled in the late 19th century and similarly survives below ground level.

On the interior of the moated enclosure are a series of shallow earthworks including, on the eastern side, a large raised platform which is believed to represent the location of the principal buildings which occupied the enclosure. These are depicted on an early 16th century map as a substantial complex of one- and two-storey buildings with tiled roofs and ornate chimneys. Archaeological deposits in this area will include the buried foundations of these buildings and associated materials. Ancillary buildings such as stables and barns would also have stood within the moated enclosure. In the south western half of the enclosure, which is low-lying, the remains of drainage ditches subdivide an area which may have been occupied by paddocks, gardens or orchards.

All standing sheds and fences 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.


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

Legacy System number: 11550

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing