Moated site 580m south west of Church Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018425

Date first listed: 19-Feb-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Oct-1998


Ordnance survey map of Moated site 580m south west of Church Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 13-Dec-2018 at 09:44:55.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: South Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Holton

National Grid Reference: SP 60027 06108


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 circular moat 580m south west of Church Farm is believed to form the earthwork remains of the earliest Holton Manor, a small manor house with associated buildings situated on a moated island with open views in all directions. Such early manorial settlements were functional and sometimes defensive rather than comfortable or luxurious. As a result it is not surprising that it was later moved to the site occupied until last century by the main house, where a much larger moated island with room for more extensive buildings, gardens and other signs of wealth was available.

As a result of this shift, the early manor site will not have suffered from the damage of later building foundations and cellars, and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, occupation and the earlier landscape in which it was built. In addition, along with the later site, it provides a good example of the changing needs and wealth of medieval manorial families, and the fashions which affected the later development of the landscape around them, in this case the landscaping of Holton Park.


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


The monument includes a roughly circular moated island situated 280m to the south east of a larger moat which was the former site of Holton House in Holton Park and which is the subject of a separate scheduling.

The roughly circular moated site occupies a position with good all-round views, and is believed to be the site of the earlier manor house first mentioned in 1367 but probably in existence at least a century earlier. The central island is roughly level and forms an almost perfect circle with a diameter of 27.5m. There are no surviving building remains visible at ground level, but from comparison with similar sites, these can be expected to survive as buried remains.

The island is surrounded by a broad ditch as much as 2.5m deep in places and measuring between 6.5m and 8m wide except at its north west edge where it has been extended by a further 6m to form a broader rounded hollow.

The site is very similar to the early manor moat at Woodstock, in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, 17km to the north west and the subject of a separate scheduling. At both sites it appears that the later house was constructed on a new site leaving the earthwork remains of the earlier abandoned moat within the later landscaping of the park. At Holton the fact that the later house was also moated has led to its confusion with the earlier manor site, and this smaller moat has sometimes been identified as a possible Civil War earthwork. Although the park was occupied by Parliamentarian troops in 1643, there is no evidence that any large-scale earthworks were constructed, and in any case, it is more likely that troops would have made use of existing earthworks at first, as occurred at Cornbury Park near Charlbury.

The site formed the focus of the early medieval manorial settlement which later shifted as part of the wider development of the landscape associated with the changing needs and fashions of the owners of Holton Park.

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: 30824

Legacy System: RSM


DISCUSSION WITH D. PORTER ON SITE, Jeffery, P, Holton House (site of) Moat, (1997)
DISCUSSION WITH SMRO & RECORD SEARCH, Lisk, S, Holton House (site of) Moat, (1997)
PRN 158, C.A.O., LIMEKILN, (1973)
PRN 1771, C.A.O., Manor House -Holton House (site of), (1973)
PRN 5723, C.A.O., Octagonal ditched mound, (1990)

End of official listing