Information for record number MWA3218:
Moated Site at the Pleasaunce

Summary The site of a moat at the Pleasaunce. It was of Medieval date and enclosed a timber banqueting hall. It is visible as an earthwork and is situated 700m north-west of Kenilworth Castle.
What Is It?  
Type: Palace, Building, Moat, Kitchen?
Period: Medieval (1066 AD - 1539 AD)
Where Is It?  
Parish: Kenilworth
District: Warwick, Warwickshire
Grid Reference: SP 26 72
(Data represented on this map shows the current selected record as a single point, this is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent an accurate or complete representation of archaeological sites or features)
Level of Protection National - Old SMR PrefRef (Grade: )
Scheduled Monument (Grade: )
Sites & Monuments Record

Source Number  

1 This Medieval earthwork lies in a fold in undulating country. It was built by Henry V in about 1414 at the far end of a great lake. Apparently the area within the moat was surrounded by a stone wall (MWA5387), within which was a timber banqueting hall (MWA5388), dismantled by Henry VIII. All that remains is an earthwork, approximately a square of 30.5m each way, surrounded by a wide and partially double moat which at one time was full of water.
2 A pleasure-house known as 'the Pleasurance in the Marsh'.
4 There are a number of areas at which the moat has been disturbed in modern times.
6 A lozenge shaped moated site. Excavations have shown that there were stone towers at the corners and other masonry. The place was constructed in 1414 by Henry V, buildings were removed by Henry VIII. The site has a double ditch and bank surrounding a central plateau. The ditches were wet with water, banks of varying height, rough pasture. The north-west arm of the outer ditch deepened to form a cattle pond. Farm tracks cut through the centre of the north side. A spur on the south side is a ditch with a bank on each side.
7 External enclosure banks exist on the NW and SW sides. The moat's inner ditch is about 12m wide and 2m deep and the outer about 10m wide and 1.5m deep.
9 The original entrance was probably located across the eastern arms of the moats. The levelled area between the two moats probably functioned as a terraced walkway. At the southern corner of the walkway is a small, raised rectangular platform and at the western and northern corners there are slight depressions in the ground surface.
10 Report in Medieval Archaeology. The construction of the Pleasance required the reclamation of a thickly-overgrown area, according to a reference in chapter xi of the metrical life of King Henry V by Thomas Elmham. Although this is in a poem, it is argued that Elmham may have been an eye witness to the construction of the Pleasance, and this may be an accurate statement. 'Chapter XI. How his majesty the king kept Lent at Kenilworth Castle, and in the Marsh, where foxes lurked among the brambles and thorns, built for his entertainment a pleasure garden (viridarium). It was as if he foresaw the tricks of the French against his kingdom and how he would manfully drive out these and other insidious enemies. On this site he constructed a delicious place which he caused to be called Plesant Mareys. The king is at Kenilworth over Lent where he considers what ought to be done. There was there a fox-ridden place overgrown with briars and thorns. He removes these and cleanses the site so that wild creatures are driven off. Where it had been nasty now becomes peaceful Marshland; the coarse ground is sweetened with running water and the site made nice. So the king considers how to overcome the difficulties confronting his own kingdom, the achievement of which will require correspondingly greater effort. He remembers the foxy tricks of the French both in deed and in writing and is mortified by the recollection.''
11 A series of geophysical surveys were undertaken across the Pleasance, which detected anomalies likely to represent the remains of features dating from the time of its use as a pleasure ground. A large hexagonal compacted area has been detected in the centre of the diamond shaped mound and this may well be the remains of a central garden or courtyard. At three corners of the mound, remains of footings for towers have been detected. It is possible that robbed out remains of the fourth western tower have been detected. Possible evidence for a range of buildings have been detected on the SW side of the mound. It is suggested that this may possible be kitchens or food preparation areas, given the strong magnetic response. It is also likely that this range of structures provided the materials for the buildings Henry VII re-erected within the Castle after he ordered the buildings on the Pleasance to be demolished.
12 The Pleasance at Kenilworth is a moated site with a banqueting hall.

Source No: 8
Source Type: Aerial Photograph
Author/originator: J Pickering
Date: 1962
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: SP4489 C/D/E/X
Source No: 12
Source Type: Article in serial
Title: Symbols of Status in Medieval Warwickshire (1000-1500)
Author/originator: Hook D
Date: 2014
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 117
Source No: 10
Source Type: Article in serial
Title: Medieval Archaeology: Reclamation of waste ground for The Pleasance at Kenilworth
Author/originator: M W Thompson
Date: 1964
Page Number: 222-223
Volume/Sheet: 8
Source No: 1
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: TBAS vol 49
Author/originator: Phelps W
Date: 1923
Page Number: 61-2
Volume/Sheet: 49
Source No: 2
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Victoria County History, vol 6, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Salzman L F (ed)
Date: 1951
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: VI
Source No: 7
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Moated Sites Research Group
Author/originator: JEC
Date: 1983
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: Card
Source No: 11
Source Type: Geophysical Survey Report
Title: Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire. Report on Geophysical Surveys, June and July 2004
Author/originator: Linford, N, Linford, P and Martin, L
Date: 2005
Page Number:
Source No: 4
Source Type: Plan
Title: OS Card, 35NE5
Author/originator: Ordnance Survey
Date: 1968
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 35NE5
Source No: 3
Source Type: Record Card/Form
Title: OS Card 25NE6
Author/originator: Ordnance Survey
Date: 1968
Page Number:
Source No: 6
Source Type: Scheduling record
Title: SAM List 1983
Author/originator: DoE
Date: 1983
Page Number:
Source No: 5
Source Type: Scheduling record
Title: AM7
Author/originator: DoE
Page Number:
Source No: 9
Source Type: Scheduling record
Title: SAM County List 1994
Author/originator: English Heritage
Date: 1994
Page Number:
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Word or Phrase
none Scheduled Monument Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs) are those archaeological sites which are legally recognised as being of national importance. They can range in date from prehistoric times to the Cold War period. They can take many different forms, including disused buildings or sites surviving as earthworks or cropmarks.

SAMs are protected by law from unlicensed disturbance and metal detecting. Written consent from the Secretary of State must be obtained before any sort of work can begin, including archaeological work such as geophysical survey or archaeological excavation. There are nearly 200 SAMs in Warwickshire.
source OS Card Ordnance Survey Record Card. Before the 1970s the Ordnance Survey (OS) were responsible for recording archaeological monuments during mapping exercises. This helped the Ordnance Survey to decide which monuments to publish on maps. During these exercises the details of the monuments were written down on record cards. Copies of some of the cards are kept at the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. The responsibility for recording archaeological monuments later passed to the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments. back
source SAM List Scheduled Ancient Monument List. A list or schedule of archaelogical and historic monuments that are considered to be of national importance. The list contains a detailed description of each Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) and a map showing their location and extent. By being placed on the schedule, SAMs are protected by law from any unauthorised distrubance. The list has been compiled and is maintained by English Heritage. It is updated periodically. back
source TBAS Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society is a journal produced by the society annually. It contains articles about archaeological field work that has taken place in Birmingham and Warwickshire in previous years. Copies of the journal are kept by the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. back
technique Geophysical Survey The measuring and recording of electrical resistivity or magnetism in order to determine the existence and outline of buried features such as walls and ditches. Geophysical techniques include resistivity survey, magnetometer survey and ground penetrating radar. View Image back
technique Earthwork Earthworks can take the form of banks, ditches and mounds. They are usually created for a specific purpose. A bank, for example, might be the remains of a boundary between two or more fields. Some earthworks may be all that remains of a collapsed building, for example, the grassed-over remains of building foundations.

In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky than during the other seasons, earthworks have larger shadows. From the air, archaeologists are able to see the patterns of the earthworks more easily. Earthworks can sometimes be confusing when viewed at ground level, but from above, the general plan is much clearer.

Archaeologists often carry out an aerial survey or an earthwork survey to help them understand the lumps and bumps they can see on the ground.
technique excavation Archaeologists excavate sites so that they can find information and recover archaeological materials before they are destroyed by erosion, construction or changes in land-use.

Depending on how complicated and widespread the archaeological deposits are, excavation can be done by hand or with heavy machinery. Archaeologists may excavate a site in a number of ways; either by open area excavation, by digging a test pit or a trial trench.
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period Modern The Modern Period, about 1915 AD to the present (the 20th and 21st centuries AD)

In recent years archaeologists have realised the importance of recording modern sites. They do this so that in the future people will be able to look at the remains to help them understand the events to which they are related.
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period Medieval 1066 AD to 1539 AD (the 11th century AD to the 16th century AD)

The medieval period comes after the Saxon period and before the post medieval period.

The Medieval period begins in 1066 AD.
This was the year that the Normans, led by William the Conqueror (1066 – 1087), invaded England and defeated Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings in East Sussex.
The Medieval period includes the first half of the Tudor period (1485 – 1603 AD), when the Tudor family reigned in England and eventually in Scotland too.

The end of the Medieval period is marked by Henry VIII’s (1509 – 1547) order for the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the years running up to 1539 AD. The whole of this period is sometimes called the Middle Ages.
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period modern About 1915 AD to the present (the 20th and 21st centuries AD)

In recent years archaeologists have realised the importance of recording modern sites. They do this so that in the future people will be able to look at the remains to help them understand the events to which they are related.
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monument HOUSE * A building for human habitation, especially a dwelling place. Use more specific type where known. back
monument SITE * Unclassifiable site with minimal information. Specify site type wherever possible. back
monument BUILDING * A structure with a roof to provide shelter from the weather for occupants or contents. Use specific type where known. back
monument LAKE * A large body of water surrounded by land. back
monument STONE * Use only where stone is natural or where there is no indication of function. back
monument FEATURE * Areas of indeterminate function. back
monument KITCHEN * A building or room where food is prepared and cooked. back
monument TOWER * A tall building, either round, square or polygonal in plan, used for a variety of purposes, including defence, as a landmark, for the hanging of bells, industrial functions, etc. Use more specific type where known. back
monument POND * A body of still water often artificially formed for a specific purpose. Use specifc type where known. back
monument MOAT * A wide ditch surrounding a building, usually filled with water. Use for moated sites, not defensive moats. Use with relevant site type where known, eg. MANOR HOUSE, GARDEN, etc. back
monument DRIVE * A road/carriage way giving access from the main road to the house, stables. back
monument CASTLE * A fortress and dwelling, usually medieval in origin, and often consisting of a keep, curtain wall and towers etc. back
monument PALACE * A substantial house in a town or the country (particularly associated with medieval London). Use more specific monument types where known. back
monument PASTURE * A field covered with herbage for the grazing of livestock. back
monument COURTYARD * An uncovered area, surrounded or partially surrounded by buildings. back
monument WELL * A shaft or pit dug in the ground over a supply of spring-water. back
monument PLATFORM * Unspecified. Use specific type where known. back
monument ENCLOSURE * An area of land enclosed by a boundary ditch, bank, wall, palisade or other similar barrier. Use specific type where known. back
monument DITCH * A long and narrow hollow or trench dug in the ground, often used to carry water though it may be dry for much of the year. back
monument SQUARE * An open space or area, usually square in plan, in a town or city, enclosed by residential and/or commercial buildings, frequently containing a garden or laid out with trees. back
monument GARDEN * An enclosed piece of ground devoted to the cultivation of flowers, fruit or vegetables and/or recreational purposes. Use more specific type where known. back
monument STRUCTURE * A construction of unknown function, either extant or implied by archaeological evidence. If known, use more specific type. back
monument MARSH * A low lying area of land that is usually waterlogged at all times and is flooded in wet weather. back
monument PLEASURE GARDEN * A type of 18th century public park, with refreshment houses, concert rooms, etc. back
monument PLEASANCE * An area attached to a house, or part of an estate used for pleasure and recreation. back
monument MOUND * A natural or artificial elevation of earth or stones, such as the earth heaped upon a grave. Use more specific type where known. back
monument FARM * A tract of land, often including a farmhouse and ancillary buildings, used for the purpose of cultivation and the rearing of livestock, etc. Use more specific type where known. back
monument WALL * An enclosing structure composed of bricks, stones or similar materials, laid in courses. Use specific type where known. back
monument EARTHWORK * A bank or mound of earth used as a rampart or fortification. back

* Copyright of English Heritage (1999)

English Heritage National Monuments Record