Moated site and associated earthworks 200m south west of St Nicholas's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020823

Date first listed: 12-Mar-2003


Ordnance survey map of Moated site and associated earthworks 200m south west of St Nicholas's Church
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1020823 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 24-Oct-2018 at 05:36:35.


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

County: Norfolk

District: King's Lynn and West Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: Dersingham

National Grid Reference: TF 69197 30217


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.

The moated site 200m south west of St Nicholas's Church is a good example of a medieval moated manor which, with the church and at least one other manorial site, formed the nucleus of the medieval village. The central platform remains undisturbed by later occupation, and the moat and surrounding earthworks survive well. The earthworks and associated buried deposits will retain much archaeological information about the original construction and subsequent occupation of the manor and the lives of its inhabitants, illustrating the social and economic role of the manor within the medieval community. It is likely, also, that organic materials, including artefacts and evidence for the local environment in the past, will be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the lower fill of the moat.


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


The monument includes a moated site, identified as the site of a medieval manor, with adjoining earthworks which define associated gardens and yards. The moated site is situated on the west side of Dersingham village, close to the parish church, which was one of the centres of medieval village life.

At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, Dersingham was already a large and populous village with at least three holdings identified as `manors'. There were two tenants in chief; Eudo son of Sperwic, under whom a freeman, Ricwald held one of the manors, and Peter de Valognes, who had the other two manors, together with lands held under him by 24 freemen. The 18th century historian, Blomefield, lists a total of 7 medieval manors in Dersingham, but the central location of the moated site, near the church, suggests that it was perhaps the site of the principal manor, named Pakenham Hall manor after a family who acquired it by marriage in the 14th century. Approximately 350m to the north east of it there are slight remains of what was probably a second moat marking the site of another manor known as Snaringhall. This second moated site is not included in the scheduling.

The moat near the church ranges from 8m to 12m in width and is open to a depth of around 1m, with steeply sloping sides and a flat bottom. It surrounds a central platform which, in plan, forms a squat `L' shape, indented at the north east corner, with maximum dimensions of 67m ENE-WSW by 52m. At the north west, south west and south east corners the surface of this platform is mounded about 0.5m above the surface of the interior, and these mounds perhaps mark the sites of buildings in the angles of a courtyard around the manor house. The northern arm of the moat is crossed by a modern causeway constructed of brick rubble, but the original access was probably by means of a bridge.

A stream enters the eastern arm of the moat near its southern end and flows through a channel cut into the lower fill of the southern arm to join a second stream which issues from a culvert to the north to flow through the western arm. It is possible that the streams were channelled in this way as part of a post medieval water management system. Approximately 50m to the east of the eastern arm of the moat, below the point where the east-west stream issues from a culvert beneath Manor Road, are the remains of a 19th century brick dam and sluice, and about 8m to the south west of this are the remains of a sheep dip of similar date. A linear hollow which enters the south western corner of the moat from the east is probably the remains of an earlier leat bringing water to the moat.

The western arm of the moat is bordered by an external bank up to 0.7m high and 3m wide across the top, with a parallel ditch, visible as a slight linear hollow, beyond it. From the southern end of these features another bank, up to 1m high and 6m broad across the top with a ditch along the north side, extends north westwards so as to define part of a rectilinear enclosure. This enclosure is truncated diagonally by a modern field boundary to the north, but measures at least 90m south east-north west by 68m. A bank approximately 0.5m high borders the inner edge of the ditch on the east side of this enclosure and the eastern half of the ditch on the south side, then turns north eastwards to form an inner enclosure measuring approximately 46m south east-north west. The banks have the appearance of garden earthworks, although they may have had a more utilitarian function. Adjoining these enclosures on the south side is another, bounded on the west and south sides by the stream issuing from the south west corner of the moat and subdivided by a slight, but well defined north-south ditch.

Along the outer edge of the southern arm of the moat is a broad, south facing terraced bank, and below this, to the south and south east, is a platform up to 20m wide north-south, defined on the west side by a scarp up to 1m high and on the north and south sides by shallow ditches. The lower lying area to the south of the platform is bounded on the west side by the slight remains of a ditch, to the east of which is a series of north-south ridges, narrower and more closely spaced to the west and broader to the east. These have been truncated by the levelling of a playing field to the south, but are shown on aerial photographs taken in the 1940s and 1960s to have been within a ditched enclosure of about 0.6ha. This was probably an area of cultivation, possibly an orchard, with the ground ridged to provide drainage.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all modern fences, gates and stiles, modern culverts, and the modern causeways across the northern arm of the moat and across the stream to the south of the moat. The ground beneath these features is, however, 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: 30617

Legacy System: RSM


OS, TF6930/K (Copy at Norfolk Landscape Archaeology), (1967)
RAF, RAF TF63/TF6931/A, (1946)
Title: Tithe Map of Dersingham Source Date: 1840 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: NRO Ref. DN/TA 274

End of official listing