Moated Sites and the Production of Authority in the Eastern Weald of England


Previous interpretations of medieval moated sites, rooted in functionalist and culture-historical theoretical frameworks, describe moat owners as defending themselves from threats of physical violence or emulating a fashionable status symbol. This study takes an alternative framework by exploring moated sites' active role in producing medieval ideologies of inequality. A set of case studies from the eastern Weald in southeast England provides evidence for how moats alter patterns of movement, produce spaces of stratified accessibility, and enhance the visibility of structures and spaces bounded by moats. Spatial data from surface survey is synthesized with historical context and 'imagined' moated spaces found in pictorial and textual sources to determine how moats may have been perceived by different groups of people in medieval society. By altering the physical and symbolic landscape, moated sites constituted the authority of their owners and contributed to the maintenance, or in some cases contestation, of medieval structural inequalities.
Last updated on 06/06/2017