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Moated complex 260m north west of Fryers Cottage

List Entry Summary

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.

Name: Moated complex 260m north west of Fryers Cottage

List entry Number: 1019179


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cambridgeshire

District: South Cambridgeshire

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Harlton

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 09-Nov-2000

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 33277

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.

A fishpond is an artificially created pool of slow moving freshwater constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to provide a constant and sustainable supply of food. They may be dug into the ground, embanked above ground level, or formed by placing a dam across a narrow valley. Groups of up to twelve ponds variously arranged in a single line or in a cluster and joined by leats have been recorded. The ponds may be of the same size or of several different sizes with each pond being stocked with different species or ages of fish. The size of the pond was related to function, with large ponds thought to have a storage capability whilst smaller, shallower ponds were used for fish cultivation and breeding. Fishponds were maintained by a water management system which included inlet and outlet channels carrying water from a river or stream, a series of sluices set into the bottom of the dam and along the channels and leats, and an overflow leat which controlled fluctuations in water flow and prevented flooding.

Buildings for use by fishermen or for the storage of equipment, and islands possibly used for fishing, wildfowl management or as shallow spawning areas, are also recorded.

The tradition of constructing and using fishponds in England began during the medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. They were largely built by the wealthy sectors of society with monastic institutions and royal residences often having large and complex fishponds. The difficulties of obtaining fresh meat in the winter and the value placed on fish as a food source and for status may have been factors which favoured the development of fishponds and which made them so valuable. The practice of constructing fishponds declined after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century although in some areas it continued into the 17th century. Most fishponds fell out of use during the post-medieval period although some were re-used as ornamental features in 19th and early 20th century landscape parks or gardens, or as watercress beds.

Documentary sources provide a wealth of information about the way fishponds were stocked and managed. The main species of fish kept were eel, tench, pickerel, bream, perch, and roach. Large quantities of fish could be supplied at a time. Once a year, probably in the spring, ponds were drained and cleared.

Fishponds are widely scattered throughout England and extend into Scotland and Wales. The majority are found in central, eastern and southern parts and in areas with heavy clay soils. Fewer fishponds are found in coastal areas and parts of the country rich in natural lakes and streams where other sources of fresh fish were available. Although 17th century manuals suggest that areas of waste ground were suitable for fishponds, in practice it appears that most fishponds were located close to villages, manors or monasteries or within parks so that a watch could be kept on them to prevent poaching. Although approximately 2000 examples are recorded nationally, this is thought to be only a small proportion of those in existence in medieval times. Despite being relatively common, fishponds are important for their associations with other classes of medieval monument and in providing evidence of site economy.

The elaborate moated complex 260m north west of Fryers Cottage survives very well and reflects the wealth and social standing of its inhabitants. The islands are largely undisturbed by post-medieval and modern activity and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to the development and character of the site throughout its periods of occupation. Ditches and ponds will retain detailed evidence for the water management system and the buried silts in their bases will contain both artefacts relating to the period of occupation and environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which the moated site was set.

Although partly infilled the fishponds will retain buried evidence for the sluices and dams used to regulate the water supply and manage the stock.

Comparative studies between this site and with further examples, both locally and more widely, will provide valuable insights into the development of settlement in medieval England.


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


The monument includes a group of three moated sites with associated fishponds and water control features occupying an area bounded to the west by a stream and to the east by a dried-out stream bed. The moated complex is located 260m to the north west of Fryers Cottage, 500m to the north west of the parish church of Harlton.

The southernmost moated site incorporates two sub-rectangular islands separated by an intervening arm of the moat. The eastern island, the largest of the two, measures up to 43m east-west by 38m north-south and the western island measures approximately 30m north-south by 25m east-west. The two islands are enclosed by a partly infilled moat, now visible as a series of shallow depressions up to 8m wide and 0.6m deep on all but the western side, where it is bounded by a north flowing stream. An outer bank, thought to represent upcast from the moat, is visible along the northern edge of the eastern island. The northern arm of the moat continues in an easterly direction for a further 25m before connecting with the dried up stream bordering the eastern side of the monument. A shallow moat and associated bank, approximately 20m to the south of and parallel with this northern extension, also runs from the east arm of the moat to the stream bed thus defining a small enclosure. The moated site may represent the site of one or more buildings associated with the main central moated enclosure 100m to the north.

The main central moated enclosure consists of an island measuring approximately 36m north-south by 28m east-west which is enclosed by a partly water-filled moat on the north, south and west sides. The moat measures 0.7m deep by 9m wide. On the eastern side the stream bed bounds the island serving to complete the circuit of the moat. Tile, bone and oyster shell, together with a 17th century potsherd have been retrieved by partial archaeological excavation. The central moated enclosure is thought to have been the site of the manor house in the 16th or 17th century and may mark the site of an earlier medieval manor house, perhaps from the 13th century.

The northernmost moated site is smaller with an island measuring 11m square. It is thought to represent the site of a dovecote or lodge associated with the manor house. The enclosing moat, which has been partly infilled, measures a maximum of 6.5m wide and 0.5m deep. The northern arm of the moat links up with the stream bed to the east and continues westwards for a further 30m. A bank, thought to represent upcast from the northern arm, runs immediately to the north.

Extending southwards from the northern moat and linked to it by a leat, are two interconnecting north east-south west aligned fishponds. These fishponds have been partly infilled and are now visible as shallow depressions approximately 0.5m deep, 27m and 22m long respectively and between 4.5m and 8m wide. A series of interconnecting channels and water control features connect the fishponds with the central moated enclosure, the northern moated enclosure and the western stream. An L-shaped bank lies north of the northern moated enclosure.

The moated complex may represent the site of the manor of Huntingfield (later known as Harlton), which was partly owned by Walter Gifford at Domesday. Before 1166 the manor had been acquired by William de Huntingfield and descended with the main line of his family until 1313. In 1388 the manor was in the same ownership as the manor of Ludes and by 1448 this manor, known by then as the manor of Harlton, may have been enlarged to include Rotses and Butlers manors. There was a large demesne farm held by the lady of the manor in 1524. The manor house was deserted in 1587 and a new farmhouse was built. This was bought by Thomas Fryer in 1608 and continued in his family until 1677 when it is recorded as being `conveyed to Christ's Hospital'. The moated complex, which is believed to have been occupied from the 13th century, developed in the 16th or 17th century into a series of gardens and pools surrounding a house occupying the central moat. The complex was deserted by the 17th century when Manor Farm was built approximately 400m to the south east of the moated complex, towards the west end of Harlton village.

All fences, gates and horse jumps are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire214-222
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire214-222
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire214-222
RCHM: West Cambs, (1968)
Title: 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1886 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: CRO: XLVI:15
Title: Enclosure map of Harlton Source Date: 1808 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: CRO: P84/26

National Grid Reference: TL 38463 53025


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This copy shows the entry on 25-Sep-2018 at 04:27:07.

End of official listing