Moated site 280m south east of Spong Bridge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020782

Date first listed: 15-Dec-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Sep-2002


Ordnance survey map of Moated site 280m south east of Spong Bridge
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: Breckland (District Authority)

Parish: Beetley

National Grid Reference: TF 98552 18995


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. 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 and they were largely built by the wealthy sectors of society.

The moated site 280m east of Spong Bridge survives well as a series of earthwork and buried deposits not known to have been disturbed by post- medieval occupation. The buried remains will include archaeological information concerning the construction of the moat, the layout and construction of the buildings which stood on the platform and activities relating to their occupation. Water-logged deposits in the moat 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. Evidence for earlier land use, predating the construction of the moat, is also likely to be preserved in soils buried beneath the artificially raised ground. The limited archaeological excavation has confirmed the survival of building remains and archaeological deposits and contributed to the understanding of the site.


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


The monument includes the remains of a medieval moated site 280m south east of Spong Bridge, adjacent to the Black Water which supplied water to the moat. Beetley, a beruite, or little manor, was part of Elmham manor which was held by William Beaufoe in 1086. In the mid-13th century it was held by Walter, Bishop of Norwich, and subsequently was granted to Thomas Cromwell. The Cromwells sold the manor to John Althow at the end of the 16th century and it was subsequently purchased by Christopher Crow. The site is thought to have been abandoned by the 17th century. The moated island is roughly rhomboidal in plan measuring 80m east-west by 42m wide at the east end and 64m in width at the west end. The eastern half of the island is raised up to 0.5m above the surrounding ground level and 0.4m above the western portion of the island. The raised platform is thought to have been occupied by the manor house and limited archaeological excavations undertaken in 1955 revealed building foundations. The investigations also retrieved pottery dating to the 13th and 14th century. At the south west corner of the island is a sub-rectangular hollow, believed to be a fishpond, measuring 20m north-south by 8m and 1.5m deep. The island is surrounded by a partly water-filled moat measuring up to 10m in width and open to a depth of 1.5m. A low external bank measuring approximately 1m in width lies along part of the west arm of the moat. Two shallow channels leading eastward from the north east corner and east arm of the moat represent part of the former water management system. The ends of the channels adjoining the moat are included in the scheduling. All fence posts and telegraph poles 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. 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: 35063

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of Norfolk , (1808)
Brown, P (ed), Doomsday Book: Norfolk, (1984)
Wade-Martins, P, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in Village sites in Launditch hundred, Norfolk, , Vol. 10, (1980), 17-18
NMR, 358674, (2002)
Norfolk SMR, NF2785, (2001)

End of official listing