Moated site and associated fishponds 160m east of Little Sarnesfield


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019856

Date first listed: 09-Mar-2001


Ordnance survey map of Moated site and associated fishponds 160m east of Little Sarnesfield
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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: Weobley

National Grid Reference: SO 38797 52111


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. Fishponds were maintained by a water management system which included inlet and outlet channels carrying water from a river or stream. 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. 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. 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 moated site 160m east of Little Sarnesfield survives as a well-preserved example of a medieval moat with an associated fishpond complex. The island is expected to preserve evidence of former structures, including both domestic and ancillary buildings as well as their associated occupation levels. These remains will illustrate the nature of the site's use, the lifestyle of its inhabitants and facilitate dating of the construction and subsequent periods of use of the moat. The moat will be expected to preserve earlier deposits including evidence of its construction and any alterations during its active history. The waterlogged nature of the moat and fishponds will preserve environmental information such as pollen and seeds which will provide information about the ecosystem and landscape in which it was set.


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


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the medieval moated site, adjacent fishponds and water control features, 160m east of Little Sarnesfield. The site is situated on the side of a low hill at the point where the slope begins to rise steeply. The moated site is square, and one rectangular and two square fishponds lie adjacent to the east with a spring and inlet leat to the west. There are the earthwork remains of a boundary bank and ditch and of a former trackway to the north west. These features are not included in the scheduling. The northern, southern, and western arms of the moat measure approximately 8m wide by up to 2m deep widening slightly in the south west corner. The eastern arm measures approximately 6m wide. Both the southern and eastern arms are retained by dams which measure between 6m and 10m wide by up to 1.5m high. The moat is fed by the spring to the west and both the moat and the adjacent ponds are waterlogged. Access to the island, which measures approximately 25sq m, is gained via a causeway situated midway along the northern arm. Stone rubble is visible in the banks of the island and in the causeway. Immediately east of the moat is the rectangular fishpond which measures approximately 25m north to south by 12m east to west. It is retained by banks to the east, west and south, that to the west also defining the moat. The southern dam, which measures approximately 10m wide by up to 1.5m high, is an extension of the dam retaining the southern arm of the moat although a breach, 3m to 5m wide, exists immediately to the south of the eastern arm of the moat. The eastern retaining dam of this pond measures up to 5m wide by up to 1.5m high and runs for approximately 40m from north to south forming the western retaining dam of the two ponds immediately adjacent to the east. An east to west projection from this dam, circa 10m long, forms a division between the nortern and the southern of these two ponds, leaving a leat 4m wide connecting the two. The northernmost of these two ponds is cut into the slope of the hill for some distance and measures approximately 9m north to south by 15m east to west. The southern pond measures approximately 20m north to south by 15m east to west. The spring, which rises approximately 20m west of the north west corner of the moat, feeds the moat through a leat which may have been larger in the past. A series of earthworks immediately to the west of the moat and south of the spring, are believed to represent former water control features and are included in the scheduling. Further earthworks to the north of the site are believed to represent the remains of a former road/trackway, possibly connected with the moated site, and also the remains of a hollow way or boundary ditch. These earthworks are not included in the scheduling. All modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath it 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: 31971

Legacy System: RSM


RCHM, Herefordshire, RCHM, RCHM, Herefordshire, (1934)

End of official listing