Moat House moated site and an associated fishpond


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019206

Date first listed: 18-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of Moat House moated site and an associated fishpond
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Longnor

National Grid Reference: SJ 49356 00227


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.

Moat House moated site is a well-preserved example of this class of monument encompassing an upstanding late medieval hall house. This structure, together with the related documentary sources and buried remains, provide valuable insights into the development and use of the site. The documentary sources also provide important information about the establishment of the site and its changing ownership during the medieval and post-medieval periods. The archaeological investigations of the site were small scale, but have helped to demonstrate the nature, extent and date of the buried structural features existing on the moated island and the deposits within the moat. These remains together with the artefacts and organic remains surviving on the island and in the moat will provide additional evidence about the occupation and social status of the inhabitants. Organic remains surviving in the buried ground surface under the raised portion of the island and within the moat will also provide information about the changes to the local environment and the use of the land before and after the moated site was constructed. Fishponds were constructed throughout the medieval period with many dating to the 12th century. The association of the moated site with this pond provides further evidence about the economy and life style of the occupants of the site during the medieval period.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval moated site and an associated fishpond on the south eastern outskirts of Longnor. The moat surrounds Moat House, a Listed Building Grade II*. A documentary source suggests that the moated site was constructed in the early 13th century when Roger Spuncheaux had timber to fortify his house at Longenaire (Longnor). Between 1291 and 1298 the tenants, Richard and Emma Clerk, were given licence by the lord of the manor of Longnor to widen the moat by 12 feet. Structural timbers from Moat House have been dated by dendrochronology (the technique of dating using tree growth rings) and indicate that the house was constructed about 1467. It is thought that the house was built by Thomas Acton, a leading Shropshire lawyer, who died in 1480. The house originally consisted of a hall, open to the roof, with service rooms to the north and probably other chambers, including a withdrawing room (a solar), to the south. In 1370 Sir Edward Acton was granted a licence for a private oratory (a chapel) at Longnor. The house would have formed the centre of a group of buildings arranged around a courtyard. It is suggested that the area to the west of the house, where building debris is known to exist, was the site of a detached kitchen. A licence for the demolition of such a building was granted in 1646. In the late 16th century the house was substantially altered and early in the following century it was used as a farmhouse. It was converted into two farm cottages in the 19th century and restored as a single dwelling in the late 20th century. The moated site occupies a low-lying position on a gentle south east facing slope with extensive views of the surrounding uplands. The moat retains water with the exception of the north western part of its circuit, and defines a subtectangular island 60m east-west by 85m north-south (maximum dimensions). The arms of the moat are between 8m and 12m wide, except to the south west where the arm extends slightly inwards. Material excavated from the moat has been used to raise the south eastern part of the island in order to create a level platform. The earliest large scale Ordnance Survey map (published in 1882) shows three entrance causeways across the moat. The only one to remain extant is that to the west. The same map also shows two buildings which were subsequently demolished - a stone barn in the middle of the southern portion of the island and a timber framed structure next to the western moat arm to the south of the causeway. Earthworks survive to indicate the building platform for the barn, together with two boulders marking the position of part of the north wall. These boulders are included in the scheduling. The location of the demolished structure next to the moat is marked by four stone post pads, which originally supported load bearing timber uprights, and stone wall foundations along its western side. The post pads and stone wall foundations are also included in the scheduling. Further earthworks on the southern half of the island are considered to mark the position of other buildings. The site was the subject of an archaeological investigation in 1958 when exploratory trenches were dug. In the trench excavated on the northern side of the island next to the moat the remains of a stone bank were found. Trenches were dug in the north western corner of the island and in one a cobbled surface was discovered. A trench was also dug close to the entrance causeway which crosses the western moat arm. Here the initial silt deposits contained pieces of waterlogged wood, all adze cut, which probably came from the construction of a bridge or a palisade. Later silt deposits were sealed below a layer of boulder clay, deposited during the 19th century. Further archaeological investigations were conducted in 1987 and 1988 around Moat House, prior to the erection of an extension to the southern end of the house. A geophysical survey, used to locate buried structural features, together with limited excavation, demonstrated the survival of well-preserved structural remains and associated deposits dating from the medieval period onwards. On the eastern side of the moated site there is a subrectangular water-filled fishpond about 30m wide and 80m long (maximum dimensions). Its size suggests that it was used for storing fish rather than for breeding them, in order to supply markets nearby and for local consumption. The ground that separates the moated site from the fishpond is between 6m and 9m wide and has been raised by up to 0.8m above the level of the surrounding ground to form a level platform. The fishpond is included in the scheduling to preserve the relationship between it and the moated site. Moat House and the adjoining garage, fences and associated gates, the surface of the modern driveway, the former pig sty and associated stone-built walls, the former brick-built latrine, the greenhouse, the stone abutments of the timber footbridge across the moat, all oramental garden features and utility poles are excluded from the scheduling; the ground beneath all these features is, however, 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: 33809

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hislop, M, Horton, M, The Moat House, Longnor, Shropshire. Archaeological Evaluation, (1987)
Richards, C P, Richards, M, Moat House, Longnor, Shropshire, (1991)
'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Britain in 1958, , Vol. 3, (1959), 317
Hislop, M et al, 'Research Paper Number 51' in The Moat House, Longnor, Shropshire. A watching brief, (1990)
County Series map 1:2500 scale, (1882)
Forest Perambulation - dated 1235, Hewitt, P, Longnor Moat House - notes for Shropshire VCH Vol 5,

End of official listing