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.
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.