Wilton Hall moated site 250m south of Manor Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021269

Date first listed: 01-Mar-1968

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Apr-2004


Ordnance survey map of Wilton Hall moated site 250m south of Manor Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Wilton

National Grid Reference: SE 86223 82698


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.

Wilton Hall is one of a series of castles and defended manor houses along the northern edge of the Vale of Pickering. It is unusual in displaying earthworks in a good state of preservation, with the moat and bank surviving on three sides. Protruding masonry and documentary sources suggest that substantial masonry structures once stood on the inner platform, and that a gatehouse complex provided access from the north side, where the settlement stood. Environmental evidence is likely to survive well in the ditch deposits.

Aerial photographs indicate that the moated site stood within a large rectangular enclosure, providing a ditched outer bailey, clearly respected by the ridge and furrow to the south. Further ridge and furrow, probably of later date, survives to the west and overlying the outer eclosure.


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


The monument includes a substantial moated site, together with traces of an outer enclosure and later ridge and furrow. This is one of a number of defended manor houses along the northern edge of the Vale of Pickering. Unusually, the defences at Wilton Hall are very substantial, making this the best preserved moated site in the area. A licence to crenellate was granted to John de Heslerton in 1335.

The moat itself is roughly circular, averaging 9m across and 2.4m deep, with an outer bank surviving up to 2m high and 6m wide. The moat survives well on three sides, but on the north side the moat is overbuilt by the modern road. Within the moat stands a level platform with a sub-rectangular shape, measuring roughly 65m by 80m. Traces of masonry protrude from the ground, including some chamfered ashlar. The inner banks of the moat also show traces of buried stone revetments.

An excavation in 1975, at the north east corner, revealed evidence of occupation from the 12th century or earlier. The ditch on the north side of the site is of 13th century date and smaller than the ditch on the other three sides, possibly because the village was on this side. The northern defence line appeared to consist of a substantial mortared wall, which was part of a building and gatehouse complex. The inner bank appeared to be of one period, while the outer bank showed two phases. The northern ditch was open until at least the 14th century, and was later filled by the levelling of the second phase of the rampart.

Aerial photographs reveal that the moated site was enclosed on at least three sides by a larger, rectangular enclosure, with a ditch running roughly 40m beyond the moated site on its west, south and east sides, with ridge and furrow of `reversed S' type running up to this from the south. Within the modern field containing the moat, the ridge and furrow terminated at the outer enclosure ditch, but both of these have now been flattened by modern ploughing. However, in the next field to the west, the ridge and furrow continues across the partially-visible ditch and the interior of the enclosure, and both survive as earthworks. This ridge and furrow is straighter and more tightly spaced than that further east, suggesting that this is post-medieval in date.

The churchyard wall, hedges and field gates are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included. In the centre of the roadside section of the moated area is a short length of walling, showing a piece of medieval dressed masonry sandwiched between two lesser pieces of masonry. All of this masonry is included in the scheduling.

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: 35565

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of North Riding of Yorkshire, (1923), 438
Farmer, P G, Excavations at Wilton Hall near Thornton Dale, 1975, (1975), 19-25
Farmer, P G, 'Tr Scarborough and Dist A.S.,3,18' in Excavations at Wilton Hall near Thornton Dale, 1975, (1975), 19-25
SF 1703/386 also ANY 89/4 (1980), (1979)

End of official listing