Moated site and fishponds immediately west of Upper House Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019476

Date first listed: 02-Jun-2000


Ordnance survey map of Moated site and fishponds immediately west of Upper House Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Staunton on Wye

National Grid Reference: SO 37191 45141


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.

Despite being partially infilled on the west side, the moated site immediately west of Upper House Farm survives particularly well and is a good example of its class. The central platform will contain archaeological features relating to the construction and occupation of the site, and the moat will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence in the form of organic remains relating both to the moated site and the landscape in which it was constructed. A fishpond is an artificially created pool constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to provide a constant supply of food. Groups of ponds can be found in a line or cluster, and may be of different sizes for different species or ages of fish. Fishponds were maintained by a water management system which included inlet and outlet channels, sluices and leats. 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 having particularly large and complex examples. 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 reused 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 were widely scattered throughout England and extended into Scotland and Wales. The majority are found in central, eastern and southern parts. 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 and 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 three fishponds immediately west of Upper House Farm are good examples of their class. Their close grouping and association with the moated site will produce evidence for the economy of the site and the management of fish stocks. As with the moat, environmental and organic materials containing evidence for the site's economy and the local environment will survive.


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


The monument includes a moated site and three associated fishponds near the crest of a south west sloping ridge above the flood plain of the River Wye. The site has been surveyed by Herefordshire County Council. The moated site is situated on the same ridge as the church, equi-distant between the church and the existing village of Staunton on Wye, being about 0.5km from each. Its association with the fishponds indicates a high status site, as do documentary sources. The moated site has a dry moat about 2.5m deep and 10m wide which has become infilled over time on the west side, but is visible as a shallow depression, about 0.2m deep. On the east side the moat narrows to about 8m wide and forms a boundary with the adjoining property. The southern arm of the moat has a low counterscarp bank on its south side. The platform in the centre of the moat slopes slightly from east to west and is about 35m east-west by about 25m north-south. There are no obvious features on the platform, although the remains of buildings can be expected to survive as buried features. About 10m to the south of the southern arm of the moat, and lying parallel to it, is a fishpond 12m north-south, 27m east-west and about 0.5m deep. There is a second pond about 5m to the south east, and a third about 35m to the south west. The pond to the south east is about 2m deep and 15m east-west by 50m north-south; the other is aligned north east-south west, and is 15m wide, 30m long and 0.75m deep.

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: 28877

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
O'Donnell, J, 'TWNFC' in Market Centres In Herefordshire 1200-1400, , Vol. XL, (1971), 186-194

End of official listing