Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.
Although Crosland Lower Hall moat has been partially destroyed by modern cellar construction, the larger part of the monument is undisturbed and trial excavations have shown that archaeological remains survive both well and extensively.
Crosland Lower Hall moat is situated west of Hall Dyke adjacent to Lower Hall Farm. The monument includes the site of a moated house and the drain connecting the moat to Hall Dyke. Further remains survive in the pasture fields to the south and east and include a nineteenth century mill-race and earthworks representing the sites of buildings and enclosures. The relationship between these features and the moat is not yet fully understood and so they have not been included in the scheduling.
The moated site includes a small, roughly square platform surrounded by a filled-in moat partially enclosed by a counterscarp bank. The platform is currently occupied by a nineteenth century farm-cottage and barn, the latter incorporating at least one socketed timber from an earlier building on the same site. A lane borders the north-west perimeter of the site and may overlie part of it.
Although the monument is no longer visually impressive, partial excavations carried out between 1977 and 1978 by the Huddersfield and District Archaeological Society have established that a well-preserved stone-lined moat survives beneath the ditch fill. In addition, a stake hole found in a trench excavated inside the barn indicates that the remains of timber features and structures survive on the platform. Other trenches have established the locations of the west and south corners of the island, the entrance on the north-west side and the extent of the island to the north-east. A trench excavated across the moat on the south-east side demonstrated that, at some point, the site was altered by extending the island into the moat.
It appears that material predating this alteration was cleared out of the moat at this time, since the pottery recovered from the trench has been dated to no earlier than the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries whereas, elsewhere on the site, twelfth and thirteenth century pottery has been found. This suggests that the modifications were carried out in the 1400s, possibly in connection with the building of a new hall. The moat appears to have been c.9m wide and to have been fed by drainage from the hillside to the west. According to tradition, the site became too wet to be habitable and the owners moved to the present location of Crosland Hall, upslope to the west; hence the name Lower Hall. A drain extends from the east corner as far as Hall Dyke and survives primarily as a buried feature. Recently, the mouth of a stone-lined drain was uncovered c.3m south of the corner of the moat and is believed to be broadly contemporary with it. Nearby, brick foundations of probable eighteenth or nineteenth century date were also exposed and may relate to the later mill race.
Limited documentary evidence regarding the monument includes the ballad describing the `Elland Feud', which refers to the hall in existence in 1341, and two maps of the area dating to 1695 and 1720. The latter, compiled by John Warburton, shows a two-gabled building and suggests that an earlier hall was replaced in the Elizabethan period. The later house appears to have been demolished by 1789 since it is not marked on the map of Huddersfield and District compiled at that time. The fourteenth century hall was the home of the Beaumont family of Crosland and was, according to tradition, the setting for the murder of Sir Robert de Beaumont by Sir John de Eland (sic.) in c.1341. The pottery evidence from the site indicates that a hall was in existence prior to this and may date to c.1166 when Ralph de Cridling is recorded as holding lands in Croslandfosse or South Crosland from his lord, Roger de Lacy. This suggests that at least three dwellings have stood on the island, excluding the current farmhouse. Stone foundations observed in 1868 within the bank surrounding the moat indicate that, in at least one phase, the hall was enclosed by a wall c.1m thick. The island is roughly 30m square and so was probably only ever occupied by a dwelling and its outbuildings, just as it is at present. The wider manorial complex of barns, granaries, workshops and enclosures would have lain in the surrounding area and it is likely that the earthworks in the adjacent fields may represent the remains of some of these, though it is also possible that they relate to nineteenth century activities. Local tradition also indicates the existence of a triangular fishpond, though the location of this is currently unknown.
The farm buildings and the cottage on the site are excluded from the scheduling. The ground beneath the cottage is also excluded as the construction of cellars has destroyed the archaeological remains here. Also excluded are the garden fixtures associated with the adjacent vegetable plot which overlies the drain leading from the moat to Hall Dyke. The ground underneath these features is, however, included as is the ground beneath the buildings other than the cottage on the island.The site of the monument includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.