Birmingham's Hidden Treasures: Hawkesley Moat
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Birmingham's Hidden Treasures - the first in a series of caches designed to take cachers to places where they will find the last thing they were expecting... I hope that other cachers may follow suit and place caches in areas that they know of around Birmingham that might meet this criteria.
Parking is available on Munslow Grove, off Turves Green near Longbridge. The text below is an edited extract from a document found on the Birmingham Archaeological Society website which gives both the history of the site and a suggested self-guided walk, which is optional. The adjacent electricity sub-station may make your GPSr somewhat vague but the clue will help!
This is a micro cache in a 35mm type container with a logsheet only, please bring a pen (and bread for the ducks!)
HAWKESLEY FARM MOATED SITE:
Hawkesley Farm moated site was built in the 13th century. Moated sites were once numerous in the Birmingham area but few of them are still visible. The moat would originally have surrounded a house and other timber buildings. Although it would have kept out unwanted visitors such as burglars, the moat was not built for defence. It could have served as a fishpond, as water for livestock, or a source of water if fire broke out in the buildings it surrounded. The main purpose of the moat was prestige. It was a status symbol, and it made the houses it surrounded look something like a castle, even they had no towers or battlements.
A farmhouse was built on the site of the main building in the 17th century. Archaeological excavations took place in 1957 and 1958 preceding and during construction of Moat House and the bungalows.
Hawkesley Farm Moated site is a scheduled ancient monument, which means that it is recognised to be of national importance and is protected by law. It is an offence to damage the site or to use a metal detector on it. Please respect the privacy of residents of Moat House and the bungalows.
Start your self-guided walk on Munslow Grove, with the waterfilled moat on your right. This the original entrance into the site, though a gap in the moat. To your left you can see a hollow in the grass marking the moat. The garden fence dips into it. The line of the moat here goes behind the bungalows. The site was originally entered through a timber gatehouse: holes for its timber posts were found in the excavations, together with a pile of tiles from its roof.
Walk into the car park and look towards the second block of bungalows. There was a large timber building where the bungalows now stand. It was about the same size as the bungalows and may have been a barn.
Move onto the paved area where there are two seats. The sandstone here was used in the walls of Hawkesley Farm, but it was originally a low plinth for the timber-framed walls of the main house. Holes for large posts and a possible hearth were found in the area where you are standing.
Drainage ditches were dug under the bungalow block in front of you (the third along from Munslow Grove) in the 13th century. They were filled in to construct a long narrow building whose walls rested on horizontal beams. The building was surrounded by a surface of stones set on edge. It was later dismantled and a hearth surrounded by wooden screen was built at on end of it. At the other end there was a 15th century coal-fired oven, one of two on the site. We don’t know what the oven was used for but the coal would have been brought here from the Black Country and must have been expensive.
Walk along the path in front of the last bungalow block up to the fenced path. The large ditch on each side of you is the moat. This would originally have contained water. Empty, it shows just how large the ditch is. The earth dug out of the moat was dumped outside it. Sandstone found on the edge of the moat here may have been the remains of a wall, and there were holes for posts, probably a fence.
Walk back towards the car park and stop by the interpretation panel. This part of the moat still has water in it. It was made into a landscape feature when Moat House and the bungalows were built.
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum