Moated site at Great Wilsey Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Moated site at Great Wilsey Farm
© 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.

St. Edmundsbury (District Authority)
Little Wratting
National Grid Reference:
TL 68759 46269

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 Great Wilsey Farm survives well. The island remains largely undisturbed by modern activity and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to its period of occupation. In addition, the buried soils beneath the raised platform of the central island are likely to retain evidence for earlier land use.

Comparison between this site and others, both locally and more widely, will provide valuable insights into the nature of settlement and society in the medieval period.


The monument includes a medieval moated site at Great Wilsey Farm lying approximately 370m north of a tributary of the River Stour. The moat is thought to represent the site of Wilsey Hall Manor which was owned by Gilbert de Clare in the first half of the 12th century. In the 16th century the manor was held by amongst others, Robert Cornewall, Sir Giles Alington, Henry Turner and family and John Skinner, who in 1601 sold it to William Smythe. It is thought that a house on the island was replaced in the 17th century by a house immediately to the east of the moated site and this in turn was demolished in the 1960s and replaced by the present Great Wilsey Farmhouse.

The moated site includes a roughly rectangular island measuring up to 46m north east-south west by 38m north west-south east which is raised up to 1m above the surrounding ground surface. The island is enclosed by a water-filled moat which measures up to 14m wide and is more than 1.5m deep. The island is approached by a modern footbridge across the south east arm of the moat.

A number of the features are excluded from the scheduling, these are: telephone and electricity poles, the made-up surface of the road, the bridge across the south east arm of the moat and a modern brick feature cut into the outer edge of the moat's southern corner. The ground beneath all these features is, however, 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.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Copinger, W, 'The Manors of Suffolk' in Wilsey Hall Manor, , Vol. V, (1909), 319
Title: The Tithe Map and Apportionment of Little Wratting Source Date: 1843 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SRO(Bury): T101/1,2


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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