Moated site in Mathams Wood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020979

Date first listed: 24-Feb-2004


Ordnance survey map of Moated site in Mathams Wood
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hertfordshire

District: East Hertfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: High Wych

National Grid Reference: TL 46321 18032


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 in Mathams Wood survives well. The inner platform remains largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for the sequence of medieval and post-medieval manor houses known to have existed on the site. The buried silts in the ditches will contain both artefacts relating to the period of occupation and environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which the moated site was set.

Matham's Wood moat lies in an area where moated sites are comparatively numerous. Comparisons between these sites and others in the country will provide valuable insights into the development of medieval society in England.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site located some 600m north east of Blounts's Farm, within the south east corner of an ancient semi-natural woodland known as Mathams Wood, which itself lies within the perimeter of the former World War II airfield known as RAF Sawbridgeworth.

The moated island is rectangular, measuring approximately 100m by 75m, with the long axis aligned north east to south west. The island is enclosed on three sides by a clearly defined dry moat averaging 1.5m in depth and 8m in width. The south western arm of the moat is mostly infilled, partly as a result of the construction of the airfield perimeter road - the surface of which has since been removed. The full circuit of the moat is, however, depicted on early Ordnance Survey maps and the line of the buried south eastern arm can still be detected as a slight declivity on the ground.

The island, which would have served as the location for a dwelling and various ancillary buildings, is slightly raised above the level of its immediate surroundings, doubtless using material dug from the moat. A gap or causeway left during construction of the south eastern arm of the moat is thought to have provided the original access to the island. A second causeway has been added near the north west corner in recent years.

The moated site is identifed with `Mathamesmaner' (the manor of the de Matham family) which was recorded in the hands of John de Matham and subsequently Geoffrey de Matham in the Assize Rolls of 1248 and 1249. The de Mathams held the property well into the 17th century, when it descended with the Sayesbury and Pisiobury manors.

The modern causeway, fences, fence posts and all modern structures relating to the pheasantry are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these items 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: 32452

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire, (1910), 203
Sanderson, L M, The Victoria History of the County of Hertfordshire: Volume III, (1912), 340
18.5.48, RAF, RAF 58/36 Pt.I/5126, (1948)
In Herts. SMR, HCC, Matham's Wood, High Wych, TL 463 180, (1996)
In Herts. SMR, HCC, Moat at Matham's Wood, High Wych, (1996)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 6" Source Date: 1879 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: XXII-III, XXX-I 1879-84
Title: Sawbridgeworth Tithe Award and Map Source Date: 1842 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: DSA 4 93/1-2 1842 and 1839

End of official listing