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New Moat The Mote

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Y Mot

In the community of New Moat.
In the historic county of Pembrokeshire.
Modern authority of Pembrokeshire.
Preserved county of Dyfed.

OS Map Grid Reference: SN06102516
Latitude 51.89130° Longitude -4.81921°

New Moat The Mote has been described as a Timber Castle but is rejected as such, and also as a Fortified Manor House although is doubtful that it was such.

There are uncertain remains.


The ancient mansion of the Scourfields, who resided here from the reign of Edward I. till within the last eighty years, when they removed to Robeston Hall, near Milford, has been taken down, and the proprietor has erected a spacious and elegant mansion on a very eligible eminence, about 400 or 500 yards from the former. (Lewis 1849)

Further earthworks have been noted, some 200m to the south-west, where OS County series shows 'the Mote (site of)' whilst a linear earthwork feature is apparent on aerial photographs leading north-east from the motte ; these features may relate to the medieval borough; burgesses, but no market, being recorded at New Moat in 1326 (Kissock 1997, 132)

The first edn 6" OS map published 1908 has marked, at the given map reference, in gothic font (an antiquity) "The Mote (Site of). No mention of this is made in the RCAHMW Inventory of 1925, which does otherwise mention the map. The site currently appears to be under a farm, concrete floored, straw store.
It should be well noted that the medieval term Mota could mean motte, moat, fishpond or moot (meeting place) and suppositions as to the which form was meant need to be made with great care and clear caveats (Latham, R.E., 1965, Revised Medieval Latin Word List (Oxford University Press) revised edition of 2008 used). While is is likely New Moat does take its name from Mota in the sense of motte this motte is clearly the fine mound NE of the church (New Moat motte).
The DAT HER is scant. It has the site type as Medieval Motte/Medieval Dwelling. Gatehouse can see no reason for the suggestion this was a motte site. The is no tenurial history that would suggest two motte in the same manor, no physical evidence and no reason for a move of sites. Although Lewis states the C19 house was built some distance for the older house of the Scourfields other sources, including the DAT HER, report it as being built on the site of the older house.
The C19 House The Mote is 600m east of the OS marked site. This is somewhat greater than Lewis 400-500 yards although in the same sort of ball park. It is difficult to see any reason that Lewis, writing only 15 years after the New house was built, would incorrectly suggest it was on a different site from the older house.
The Scourfields of New Moat were, by the early C17 a significant local family of gentry status (High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire; Pembrokeshire MP) and were to become one of the larger landowners of Pembrokeshire but do not seem to have been gentry before this and were not lords of the manor of New Moat but held some park keeper positions for the Bishop of St David's deer park of Llawhaden and may have been stewards (There may be some aggrandisement of this families earlier history in C19 genealogies). They may have lived in a modestly moated homestead in the C13 and this may have expanded into a larger house by the C15 although probably not of a size, status or strength to be consider fortified. However this is speculation based on analogue with other sites and not on any direct evidence.
Gatehouse rejects this as the site of a motte for the reasons given above. I feel it is likely to have been the location of the medieval home of the Scourfield family but feel while this may have been moated, it is unlikely to have been fortified and was not, strictly, a manor house.
The medieval term mota could also mean a pack hound (a dog that hunted as part of a pack). The Scourfields do seem to have been park keepers and their latter coat of arms features a dog, although a whippet, which is a sight hound. It is, therefore, just possible that this mota represented a house with a kennel, although that is a most unlikely suggestion just given to show the difficult in unconsidered interpretations of the medieval terms.
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This record last updated 10/07/2016 04:43:15