Barford St John

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are earthwork remains

NameBarford St John
Alternative Names
Historic CountryOxfordshire
Modern AuthorityOxfordshire
1974 AuthorityOxfordshire
Civil ParishBarford St John And St Michael

Moated enclosures with stronger defensive works. Barford St. John.

A moat about 7 ft. deep and 56 ft. wide runs on the north and west of an area which is roughly the shape of an irregular pentagon, and which is divided into two courts by a raised platform about 2 ft. high in the northwest corner. This probably marked the site of the buildings, the remainder of the area being an open court, round the north and east edges of which is a slight bank. The moat on the south of the area is now of very slight proportions, but the ground is very low, and the standing water to the east is no doubt the remains of the defences which ran along this side, and were continued between the banks which remain to the west. These banks are 5 ft. high from the bottom of the ditch they form, which is 38 ft. across. On the north of these the ground rises, and on the slope is a small horse-shoe shaped work, evidently the site of an out-building. The site encloses no buildings at the present time. (VCH 1907)

The moated enclosure is of semi-circular form, the interior being of two levels as described in the VCH. There is no sign of a building site, but local information says that walling was encountered during digging for land drainage. There is a causewayed entrance to the north.

The broad straight moat which borders the southern side extends well beyond the enclosure flanking low ground to the east and higher ground to the west. Here there are several scooped platforms which indicate medieval desertion or shrinkage. (F1 MJF 12-MAY-70)

Besides the known moated site and large rectangular fishpond S.& SE. of the village, house foundations, holloways and crofts S. and NW. of the village were found probably indicating a former larger medieval settlement. (Aston) (PastScape)

Manor house lay SE of church and near the river

There are traces of the moat and earth-banks of an earlier fortified dwelling (VCH 1969)

WB revealed that settlement appears to have started during at least C13, with fishponds (PRN 4118) as later additions. Negative earthworks are well preserved with the original moat protected by C18th-19th partial infilling. Indications that lower foundations of buildings may survive on the moat platform. (John Moore Heritage Services. 2005) (Oxfordshire HER)

Gatehouse Comments

Despite being listed as a moated enclosure with stronger defensive works, it seems likely the moats for this house were as much to do with practical flood control and status as to do with defence although this probably true for most 'fortified' manor houses.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSP439330
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  • Lobel, Mary D. and Crossley, Alan (eds), 1969, VCH Oxfordshire Vol. 9 p. 14 online transcription
  • Potts, W., 1907, in Page, Wm (ed), 'Ancient Earthworks' VCH Oxfordshire Vol. 2 p. 331 (plan) online transcription


  • Aston, M., 1972, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 2 p. 28 online copy


  • John Moore Heritage Services, 2005, An Archaeological Watching Brief at Manor Farm, Barford St John, Oxfordshire
  • OCC Archaeological Service, 1999, MPP assessment of Moated Site and Fishponds at Manor Farm, Barford St John