Moated site of Dacre Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011680

Date first listed: 01-Mar-1963

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Jun-1995


Ordnance survey map of Moated site of Dacre Castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Eden (District Authority)

Parish: Dacre

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: NY 46000 26482


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

The moated site at Dacre Castle survives reasonably well, its earthworks in particular remaining well preserved. The waterlogged parts of the moat will preserve organic material. Additionally information about the relationship between the moated site and the castle will be preserved.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the outer banks, moat and moated island upon which Dacre Castle stands. It is located in the village of Dacre on a spur of high ground between Dacre Beck to the south and a small ravine to the north. The sub-rectangular island measures approximately 73m by 55m and contains Dacre Castle on its eastern side. The island is surrounded on all sides except the east by a partly waterlogged moat measuring 9m-15m wide by up to 4.5m deep. On the west and south sides an earthen bank up to 9m wide by 1m high flanks the outside of the moat, and on the south west and south sides there is a second and parallel outer bank of similar size with a dry ditch separating the two banks.

Dacre Castle was built soon after the licence to crenellate was granted to William de Dacre in 1307. It has been suggested that the castle was constructed within an earlier moated site, but this has not been confirmed and the surrounding moat may be contemporary with the castle. Documentary sources of 1354 indicate that Margaret de Dacre, daughter-in-law of William de Dacre, lived in the castle. Documentary sources also indicate that the East Tower was built at some time before 1485 by Humphrey de Dacre. By the latter half of the 17th century the castle was derelict, but soon after Thomas Lennard, Earl of Sussex, undertook extensive repairs to make it habitable. A engraving by Buck in 1739 depicts vegetation on the castle roof and the outworks demolished, suggesting the castle may again have become run down. This view is enhanced by Gilpin who, in 1786, depicts the castle as a roofless ruin. Three years later Clarke describes it as `an old tower, though pretty entire.' Alterations and improvements were made during the 19th and 20th centuries. The castle is a Listed Building Grade I.

Dacre Castle, its cellars, a garage, a telegraph pole, all field and garden walls, fences and gateposts and the surfaces of all paths are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 23757

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Curwen, J E, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Extra Series' in Castles And Towers of Cumberland And Westmorland, , Vol. 13, (1913), 269-72
Curwen, J F, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Extra Ser.' in Castles and Towers of Cumb, West and Lancs N of the Sands, , Vol. 13, (1913)
Cumbria SMR, Dacre Castle, The Earthworks, (1987)
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Moats, (1988)
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
FMW Report, Crow, J, Dacre Castle, earthworks of, (1991)
Hasell-McCosh, R B,
SMR No 2949, Cumbria SMR, MPP Monument Evaluation Form 1 - Single Mon Discrimination, (1991)
SMR No. 2949, Cumbria SMR, Dacre Castle, The Earthworks, (1987)
SMR No. 2949, Cumbria SMR, MPP Monument Evaluation Form 1 - Single Mon Discrimination, (1991)

End of official listing