Drakelow Hall moated site, fishponds and moated enclosure


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Drakelow Hall moated site, fishponds and moated enclosure
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 70424 70153

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 seigniorial 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. Drakelow Hall moated site, fishponds and moated enclosure is a rare example in Cheshire of an important medieval Royal demense manor and sanctuary. It is mentioned in a letter to the Justiciar of Chester in the mid-14th century and survives as a well-preserved earthwork unencumbered by modern building. The complexity of surviving remains, including the main moated site, the linear set of fishponds and the two single fishponds, the system of connecting water channels and the moated enclosure, is of particular note.


The monument at Drakelow Hall comprises a well-preserved moated site with four adjacent fishponds and a rectangular moated enclosure. The site consists of a grass covered island approximately 55m square, the surface of which exhibits slight ridge and furrow, surrounded by a moat 5m wide by 1.7m deep that is waterlogged for much of its circumference. An outer bank exists adjacent to the north west and south west arms of the moat. To the north west is a linear set of fishponds connected by a dry channel. A single fishpond lies further west. A low causeway runs between the linear fishponds and leads to the outer edge of the moat where it becomes a raised bank from where a bridge or drawbridge would have given access onto the island. Another single fishpond lies close to the moat's north eastern arm and connects by a short dry channel to a dry field ditch running north west-south east from the southern corner of a trapezoidal field south of Drakelow Hall Farm. An `L'- shaped dry outlet channel issues from the largest fishpond and connects with this dry field ditch, in the process of which it forms the south west and south east arms of a grass-covered moated enclosure of approximately 40m by 18m. The site was an important Royal demesne manor and sanctuary and was mentioned in a letter of 1355 to the Justiciar of Chester. Most moats were constructed between 1250-1350 and are generally seen as an indication of the prestigious residences of the Lords of the manor. The moat in such circumstances marked the high status of the owner, but also served to deter casual raiders and wild animals. All field boundaries 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. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Booth, P H, 'J Chester A S' in Farming For Profit in the 14th Century, , Vol. 62, (1979)
Capstick, B, FMW Report : Drakelow Hall moated site, (1986)
Cheshire SMR No 807/1/1,
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Moats, (1988)
Dennison, E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Fishponds, (1988)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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