The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Benhall Moat

In the civil parish of Benhall.
In the historic county of Suffolk.
Modern Authority of Suffolk.
1974 county of Suffolk.
Medieval County of Suffolk.

OS Map Grid Reference: TM38126038
Latitude 52.18990° Longitude 1.48146°

Benhall Moat has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are earthwork remains.


In 1225 Ralph de Sunderland's dwelling ( domos ) at Benhall was fortified, with ditches and stakes, by some partisans of Henry de Clavering who had 'maintained themselves there by force and arms contrary to the king's peace'. A knight and fourteen sergeants were arrested.

Moat, Manor Farm, inhabited, rectangular platform, present house overlaps W side, although that part of the house looks the oldest. Low lying location on meadows close to river. Manor Farm adjoins on W side outside entrance to moat. House demolished in 1970s, apparently as part of planning consent for conversion of Manor Farm Buildings. Large elements of the original Manor Farm buildings, as shown on OS 1880s map, just outside entrance to moat and also possibly Med in origin, have also now gone. (Suffolk HER for Benhall Moat)
Castle Hill Field is a low mound in marshy ground. About 1950 investigations by G Sieveking and Lord Medway revealed rammed chalk only (Ipswich Museum note). (Suffolk HER for Castle Hill - dated as Roman)

Concerning the fine of 100s. for Ralph of Sunderland. Order to the sheriff of Suffolk that notwithstanding the command that the king made to him for taking the land of Joan d'Auberville, wife of Ralph of Sunderland, in Benhall and Kelton, as is said, into the king's hand and keeping it safely until the king ordered otherwise, saving to Joan her reasonable maintenance from the same land, he is to cause Ralph to have full seisin of the aforesaid land without delay, so that the sheriff will go with him in person to the house of the same Joan and will see that all of the fortalice which Henry le Claver constructed against the king's peace, both in walls and in ditches and in other things, is removed, having accepted security from Ralph that he will not make waste, sale or exile of the men, buildings, woodlands, gardens or other things pertaining to the said land, and the same sheriff is to take security from him for 100s. to the king's use. (Fine Roll Henry III dated 30 August 1225)

This may have been the moat at manor farm, although there is a mound of uncertain date in 'Castle Field', made of rammed chalk at TM355624. Both sites are about a mile from the church (which has a fine Norman doorway) and it may be that the site was other than these but no other alternative is given in PastScape.
The moat is, by far, the more likely site for Ralph Sunderland's domos. However, the moat may represent a more modest later redigging of the earlier fortification, although it is not likely that Sunderland's fortification was of any great size or strength (The danger to the King's peace was 15 armed men not ditches and stakes)
Armitage uses this one example to state 'in the reign of Henry III it was evidently illegal even to fortify an ordinary house with a ditch and stockade without royal permission.' Given the hundreds, possibly thousands, of such houses that were built without any problem this is clearly untrue. The existing licences to crenellate, while mostly given to such gentry status moated houses, still amount to only about 5% of such houses. Given the generally good preservation of royal documentation it is inconceivable 95% of the 'permissions' to build such houses have been lost. The offence was not to build a defended house but to use such a house against the King's Peace.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER            
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact