Moated site 230m and 110m north of All Saints Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019668

Date first listed: 09-Mar-2001


Ordnance survey map of Moated site 230m and 110m north of All Saints Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: Breckland (District Authority)

Parish: Newton By Castle Acre

National Grid Reference: TF 83016 15726, TF 83092 15629


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 230m and 110m north of All Saints Church and its associated ditched enclosures survive well, undisturbed by later building, and will contain archaeological information concerning their construction and occupation during the medieval period. In the fill of the moat and adjacent ditches in the lower lying parts of the site there are likely to be waterlogged deposits in which organic materials, including evidence for the local environment in the past will be preserved. Evidence for earlier land use is also likely to be preserved in buried soils beneath the raised platform and the banks associated with the moat. The proximity of the moated site to the parish church, which is often a feature of manorial sites, gives the monument additional interest, particularly as the church is of Saxon date.


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


The monument includes a double moated site and associated ditched enclosures in two separate areas of protection to either side of the modern course of the River Nar. The former course of the river, which is recorded on an 18th century map, can be seen as a slightly sinuous depression up to 12m wide curving around the north and west sides of the moated site. On the north west side of the old river course the ground rises in a steep scarp about 2m high.

The moat, which is in the first area of protection, is between 8m and 11m wide. It surrounds a rectangular platform measuring about 56m south west-north east by 42m and raised over 1m above the level of the ground to the north west and south west, and extends to the north east of this around an adjoining, smaller and roughly triangular island with maximum dimensions of 45m south west-north east by 40m. The modern river, which divides the two areas of protection and is not included in the scheduling, was diverted along the southern arm of the moat at some time before 1839 and is shown in its present course on the tithe map of that date. The rest of the moat is normally dry, having become largely infilled. The ground between the moated site and the old course of the river is low lying and subject to flooding, and along the north western and south western arms of the moat there is a low external bank about 8m wide at the base. The remains of a narrow outlet channel run south westwards from the western corner of the moat to the river at the point where the old and modern courses converge.

Slight irregularities in the surface of both moated islands suggest the presence of buried features, and at the western corner and on the south eastern side of the smaller enclosure respectively there are low, sub-rectangular mounds which are thought to mark the sites of buildings.

The second area, between the modern course of the river and the road to the east, contains at least three rectangular enclosures divided by partly infilled ditches which are visible as linear depressions of varying depth and width, some more clearly visible from the air than on the ground. The largest enclosure, measuring about 127m south west-north east by 79m, adjoins the larger moated platform. It is bounded on the north western side by the southern arm of the moat and by an extension of the southern arm which projects south westwards for a distance of about 47m beyond the southern corner of the moated platform. Along the north western side of this extension there is also a well defined bank.

Adjoining the north east side of this large enclosure is a smaller enclosure measuring approximately 67m north west-south east by 46m and containing a shallow depression which probably marks the site of a pond with an overflow channel to the river. The area between these two enclosures and the road is bounded to the south west by the churchyard and to the north east by a continuation of the ditch which marks the boundary of the smaller enclosure on that side. The road here has been straightened and widened, but the former line, curving to the east, is still visible. Aerial photographs taken before the road was straightened show two parallel ditches about 16m apart running from the road towards the moat, perhaps marking the edges of a drive or causeway.

In the tithe apportionment of 1840 the field containing these earthworks to either side of the river is named as Hall Meadow, and it is thought that the moated site is that of a medieval manor house. The manor house itself would have stood on the larger moated platform, and the smaller moated island and other enclosures would have contained associated outbuildings, farm buildings, yards and gardens. At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, the manor of Newton was a royal domain, farmed by a man named Godric. In the reign of King John (1199-1216) Henry de Burgh, the King's chamberlain, was lord of the manor. It was later purchased from John de Burgh by Baldwin de Caudewell, and in the early 14th century passed by marriage to the le Leche family in whose possession it remained into the second quarter of the 15th century. The site was probably abandoned because of its low lying situation, and the present manor house is located some 287m to the south east.

Service poles and the supports of a modern footbridge 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: 30592

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of Norfolk, (1807)
Edwards, D, NAU TF 8315/B, (1977)
Edwards, D, NAU TF 8315/P, (1984)
Edwards, D, NAU TF 8315/W, (1991)
RAF 3G TUD UK 100, (1946)
Title: Castle Acre Estate Map Source Date: 1769 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: NRO ref. MS 20658 308x2 (photocopy)
Title: Newton by Castle Acre: Tithe Map Source Date: 1839 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: NRO ref. DN/TA 238

End of official listing