Moated site and fishponds immediately west of Park Villas


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020338

Date first listed: 18-Sep-2001


Ordnance survey map of Moated site and fishponds immediately west of Park Villas
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Dec-2018 at 00:15:55.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: Breckland (District Authority)

Parish: Cranworth

National Grid Reference: TF 96721 06355


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 food supply. Groups of up to twelve ponds variously arranged in a single line or in a cluster 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. 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 wealthier sectors of society.

The moated site and fishponds immediately west of Park Villas survive well as a series of earthwork and buried deposits and will retain valuable archaeological information concerning the occupation of the site in the medieval period. Deposits in the water-filled moat and fishpond will preserve organic remains (such as timber, leather and seeds) which will give an insight into domestic and economic activity on the site and the local environment in the past. In addition deposits sealed beneath the artificially raised ground of the island will contain evidence of the land use prior to construction of the moat.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site and fishponds located immediately west of Park Villas. The moat lies close to the northern edge of the former parish of Letton, now part of Cranworth. In 1086 there were three separate land holdings in Letton in the possession of William de Schohies, William of Warenne and Hermer of Ferrers. The land holdings were further subdivided in the 12th century producing a complex pattern of land ownership.

The moated platform or island is rectangular in plan, measuring 100m north west - south east by 65m and is raised about 0.5m above the surrounding ground level. A sub-rectangular fishpond is located on the island, adjacent and parallel to the north eastern arm of the moat. The partly water-filled fishpond measures approximately 40m by 8m and 1m deep. Situated at the south east end of the pond are two shallow depressions on the same alignment, each measuring about 8m in length. The depressions mark further parts of the fishpond system, depicted on early Ordnance Survey maps, and these will survive as buried features. The ponds are separated from the north east moat arm by a bank 3m in width and standing approximately 0.5m high.

The moat enclosing the island measures up to 10m in width and is visible as water-filled arms, at least 2m deep, on the north west and north east sides of the island. The north eastern arm formerly extended beyond the north corner of the moat. This extension, also shown on early Ordnance Survey maps, measures approximately 10m in length and will survive as a buried feature. The south western arm of the moat is marked by a linear hollow, measuring up to 1m deep, which is partly infilled at the southern end. The south eastern arm of the moat is visible as a linear depression, about 8m wide and 0.4m deep. The infilled portions of the moat will survive as buried features.

All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 35059

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Davison, A, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in Six Deserted Villages in Norfolk, , Vol. 44, (1988), 38-47

End of official listing