Moated site at Fairstead Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019802

Date first listed: 09-Mar-2001


Ordnance survey map of Moated site at Fairstead Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Suffolk

District: St. Edmundsbury (District Authority)

Parish: Cowlinge

National Grid Reference: TL 72243 54300


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 at Fairstead Farm survives well. It remains 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. Buried soils beneath the inner and outer banks are likely, also, to retain evidence for earlier land use. The buried silts in the base of the moat will contain artefacts relating to the period of occupation, and organic remains including evidence for the local environment in the past are also likely to be present in waterlogged deposits in the moat.

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


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site at Fairstead Farm, approximately 750m to the south east of Cowlinge parish church.

The moated site includes a quadrangular island, measuring up to 94m north west to south east by 68m north east to south west. The island is surrounded by a partially water-filled moat measuring a maximum of 12m wide and up to 3m deep. A small section of an inner bank, not more than 10m long and 4m wide, is sited towards the south eastern end of the south western side of the island. An outer bank along the north east side of the moat measures approximately 5m wide and is thought to have been constructed with material dug from the moat. A leat extends northwards for 10m from the north western corner of the moat and a sluice across the leat controls the flow of water in and out of the moat. Both the leat and sluice are included in the scheduling. A causeway across the south west arm of the moat and a two-arched brick bridge across the north arm are known to have been in use before 1846 and are believed to represent the original access to the island. The causeway and the brick bridge are both included in the scheduling. The western corner of the island is revetted with modern brick. Immediately to the north of the causeway a stable block and a brick outhouse abut the outer edge of the moat and concrete revetting extends between these two buildings. The north west side of the island is occupied by Fairstead Farm, a Listed Building Grade II dating to the 18th century or earlier.

Fairstead Farm is believed to have been named after a fair, granted at Cowlinge in 1225. A rectangular open field on the west side of Fairstead Farm is marked on Hodskinson's 1783 Map of Suffolk as `Fairstead' and recorded in 1846 as `Fair Green and Cow house hostery'.

Fairstead Farmhouse and its cellar, the garage, the stables and brick outhouse on the outer edge of the south west arm of the moat and the interconnecting revetting, all outhouses and sheds, the modern brick superstructure on the bridge, other modern brick revetting, modern walls, fences, gates, together with all modern man-made surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all 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: 33305

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Scarfe, N, 'An Historical Atlas of Suffolk' in Medieval and later fairs, (1988), 63
Title: Tithe Map of Cowlinge Source Date: 1846 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SRO(Bury):T74/1,2

End of official listing