What is it?
A well preserved medieval moated site near the River Rea in Frankley, Birmingham
Landranger - Map 139
Explorer - Map 219
Grid reference - SO984784
Sat Nav - Nearby postcode - B45 0JD (Ormond Road)
Parking - There is a small car park off Ormond Road adjacent to the local store and community centre.
Public transport - Buses stop on Ormond Road near the footpath leading to the site. For bus times and numbers see http://www.networkwestmidlands.com/
Access - The site is in public open space. There is a footpath and cycle route along the River Rea which runs to the south of the site. The moat platform is overgrown but there is limited access along informal paths. The moat is water filled and the Rea is an open watercourse. Care should be taken when exploring the remains.
What you can see
Take the footpath running from Ormond Road marked Rea Valley Route City Centre / Gannow Wood Walk and continue until you cross a bridge with metal railings and stop beyond the stand for a now missing interpretation panel.
On the right hand side of the path runs the River Rea and the water filled ditch of the moat can be seen through the trees on your left.
The moat ditch surrounds a rectangular platform (the area inside the moat) approximately 40m x 60m created by using soil from the digging of the moat to make a slightly raised level surface on which to build a house, gardens and other structures.
There is an informal path onto the moat platform opposite a wooden fence a little further along the path.
The site can be rather overgrown. Excavations undertaken by the society in 1961, before the nearby housing development took place, revealed that there was a substantial sandstone wall built here on the south side of the inside edge of the moat dating from the 14th century. Inside, evidence of timber framed buildings with clay tiled roofs was found and a hearth which was also constructed of clay tiles.
There are finds from the site on display in the Birmingham, Its People, Its History exhibition in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery including pottery, a whetstone and a crested ridge tile from one of the buildings.
This was a substantial medieval house with the stone wall being a status symbol rather than being needed for defence.
Return to the path and continue to the corner and turn left at a litter bin onto another path which runs along the eastern arm of the moat. At the end you will come into Cornwall Road.
Turn left down the road and continue until you reach a turning area on your left. Cross this and take the footpath ahead of you that runs to the back of the shop and community centre.
There should be a stream running to your left which originally fed the moat keeping it water filled.
When you reach the main path again, where the stream enters the River Rea under the bridge you crossed earlier, turn right back towards Ormond Road.
The site is a scheduled monument which means it is protected by law.
This means metal detecting and unauthorised digging at the site is not allowed.
Cross Ormond Road at the crossing and take the path into the woodland near the bus stop. Continue with the River on your right until you reach a bridge. Cross the bridge and on your right and ahead of you is a tree covered
embankment which is the remains of a dam which formed a fish pond associated with the moated site.
The pond would have been to your left where the River Rea flows, little more than a stream at this point, and would have also covered Lismore Road. The southern bank of the pond can be seen clearly at the back of the houses in the distance showing that this would have been quite a large body of water.
The dam is now cut by Lismore Close but is a substantial structure.
Fish was an important part of the medieval diet and this also gives us information about the high status of the people who lived in the house inside the nearby moat.
Turn right into Lismore Road and then go left into Mull Close. Here a parking area has been partly cut into the dam.
Take care in this area as it is prone to fly tipping!
Return to Lismore Road and continue until you reach Ormond Road.
Alternatively if you wish you can follow the ‘Rea Valley Route Waseley Hills’ blue signs and in a little over 1km you will reach the Waseley Hills Country Park where you will find the source of the River Rea.
Turn left along Lismore Road keeping the river to your left and continue on the footpath through to Skomer Close, then turn left when you reach Boleyn Road.
At the Junction with Gannow Green Lane cross the road and follow the footpath into the Country Park.
There are toilets, a café, car park and information centre here.
A map can be downloaded from the website at http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/directory_record/3328/waseley_hills_country_park
Find out more:
- Roberts, B K, 'West Midlands Annual Archaeological News Sheet.' in Gannow Green, Rubery, (1962) https://public.worcestershire.gov.uk/sites/archaeology/Reports/SWR5272.pdf
- Aston, M and Rowley,T, Landscape Archaeology(1974) p150 (includes a plan)
- Roberts, B K, Moated sites in Midland England, Transactions of Birmingham Warwickshire Archaeological Society Vol 80, 1965
- Hodder, M, Birmingham the Hidden History. (2004 /2011)