Moated site and associated earthworks at Shernborne Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020824

Date first listed: 12-Mar-2003


Ordnance survey map of Moated site and associated earthworks at Shernborne Hall
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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: Ingoldisthorpe

County: Norfolk

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

Parish: Shernborne

National Grid Reference: TF 70604 32150


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 greater part of the moated site at Shernborne Hall survives well, despite some modern disturbance, and the adjacent earthworks, which are known or believed to relate to the manorial site, give the monument additional interest. The earthworks and associated buried remains will retain much archaeological information concerning the construction and subsequent occupation of the moated site, the domestic economy of the manor and the lives of its inhabitants. Organic materials, including artefacts and evidence for the local environment in the past, are likely to be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the lower fills of the moat, fishponds and other features. The character of the moat is consistent with a medieval origin, and it is probable that evidence for medieval buildings will be preserved in buried deposits on the central island, in addition to the remains of the demolished parts of the later 16th century house.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site with associated fishponds and other earthworks situated in the valley of the River Ingol, to the south of the river and on the boundary between the parishes of Shernborne and Ingoldisthorpe. The site is that of a manor held by the Shernbornes, a family recorded from the early 13th century until it died out in the 17th century. At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 the land in Shernborne was held by several different tenants in chief, but much of it came eventually to be combined in one lordship.

The moat surrounds three sides of a sub-rectangular central island measuring approximately 95m east-west by 55m. The southern arm has been infilled and the eastern half of it built over, but the line of the western half is still marked by a depression about 0.5m deep and 12m wide. The parts which remain open range from 5m to around 12m in width and are water-filled, fed by a leat which leads from the river upstream into the eastern end of the northern arm. An outlet channel with a sluice about 30m to the west of this carries water back from the northern arm to the river. A part of the western arm has been widened outward to create what was probably a horse pond.

The present Shernborne Hall occupies the centre of the island. The eastern part of it dates from the 18th century, with 19th century additions, but a wing at the western end is dated to the 16th century and was originally the east wing of a larger house which was probably of open `E' plan, with a central block and entrance facing south and a corresponding west wing. Blocked door openings which gave access to the central block at ground and first floor level can be seen at the north end of the west wall of the surviving wing, together with various blocked window openings. This wing appears to have been longer originally, extending further north, and was probably shortened when the central block and west wing were demolished. Remains of the demolished parts, in the form of foundations or foundation trenches, will survive below the ground surface and are included in the scheduling. Access was from the Shernborne Road to the south, probably across a causeway which carries the modern driveway.

The supply leat to the moat also fed two sub-rectangular fishponds, connected to it by short channels which probably contained sluices to allow the ponds to be filled and emptied. The first of these ponds, approximately 12m to the east of the eastern arm of the moat, measured approximately 27.5m north west-south east by 11m. This has now been infilled but will survive as a buried feature and is included in the scheduling. The second pond is about 10m to the east of this and parallel to it, measuring about 19m by 9m.

Earthworks to the west of the entrance causeway and south and south west of the moat are thought to mark the remains of buildings and other features in an outer courtyard. The principal feature is an earthen platform up to 0.6m in height and about 45m in length by 11m, situated about 40m west of the causeway and roughly parallel to it. The surface of this platform is uneven, and it is likely that it supported buildings, such as stables. From the southern end of this feature a low bank with a wet ditch to the south extends westwards, parallel to the road, for a distance of about 50m. The area to the north of this bank and west of the platform is low lying and damp, but it is possible that it was better drained in the past and contained other buildings. The remains of a probable drainage ditch leading from the southern end of the roadside bank south eastwards to the western arm of the moat can be seen as a linear depression about 0.3m deep and 3m wide. Parallel to this, about 14m to the west, is a much larger drainage channel with the remains of a bank along the eastern side. This is seasonally wet, fed by springs to the south, and issues into a drain which runs north westwards to the river. The western bank of the channel is a steep scarp about 1.2m high, and the higher ground to the west is divided into at least five rectangular and sub rectangular enclosures by the remains of intersecting ditches, visible as linear depressions approximately 3m wide and between 0.3m and 0.5m deep. These enclosures, with dimensions of from 120m to 130m in length by 36m to 52m in width, were probably paddocks and orchards relating to the manor. The area is bounded on the west side by a well-defined earthen bank aligned SSW-NNE, parallel to a modern field boundary to the west. The area between the bank and the field boundary was probably a trackway.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the standing parts of Shernborne Hall with associated outbuildings, garden walls, two greenhouses, garden sheds, trellises and other garden furniture, modern paving and the surfaces of modern paths and driveways, inspection chambers, a lamp post, service poles, footbridges across the northern arm of the moat and the leat to the east of the moat, and all modern fences and gates. The ground beneath all 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: 30618

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Blomefield, F, Essay Towards a Topographical History of Norfolk Volume 10, (1809), 350-361

End of official listing