Moated site of Leconfield Castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TA 01266 43117

Reasons for Designation

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.

This moated site survives well, and is historically well-documented. Organic material will be preserved within the silted moat, and structural and artefactual evidence will be preserved on the island, which has remained undisturbed since the 17th century.


The monument is Leconfield Castle moated site. The site includes a large sub- rectangular central island surrounded by a single dry ditch and an outer earthen bank. The central island measures 140 metres from east to west; its western end is 120 metres long, and the eastern end 110 metres long. The moat is steep-sided, up to 4 metres deep, and generally between 3 and 6 metres wide, although in some places, such as the north-eastern corner, its width is as much as 10 metres. The moat is not water-filled, but it is still damp in the bottom. Surrounding the moat on its north-eastern and southern sides is an external earthen bank 5 metres wide. On the west this bank has been truncated by ploughing in the past and is only 3 metres wide. On the northern and eastern sides of the moat this bank is 1.5 metres high; to the south it is 1.75 metres high, while to the west it is only 0.75 metres high, although it is still 5 metres in width. Access to the island is afforded by a causeway which crosses the northern arm of the moat. Immediately to the east of the moat outside the area of the scheduling there are traces of ridge and furrow and a poorly preserved fishpond. These are not included in the scheduling because of their poor state of preservation. Leconfield castle was the main seat of the Percy family from the 14th century, following a licence to crenelate in 1308, to the later 16th century. Leland visited the house in 1538, which he described as being a large, three-quarter timbered house within a moat; he also mentioned a gatehouse of brick. In 1570 the house was described as the largest and most stately of Earl Percy's houses in Yorkshire, but following a survey in 1574 it was abandoned in favour of Wressle Castle and fell into disuse. It had been completely abandoned by 1608 and was demolished soon after this to provide building materials for Wressle Castle. The last buildings on the site were small buildings recorded in 1616, but these had gone by the 18th century.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire - The East Riding, (1984), 126
The Victoria History of the County of the East Riding of Yorkshire, (1979), 260-1
Loughlin, N, Miller, K, Survey of Archaeological Sites in Humberside, (1979), 30
Neave, D, Waterson, E, Lost Houses of East Yorkshire, (1988), 45-6
Tomlin Smith, L, Itinerary of John Leland, (1964)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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