Blencow Old Hall moated tower house


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012827

Date first listed: 22-Jun-1995


Ordnance survey map of Blencow Old Hall moated tower house
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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 Grid Reference: NY 45663 32562


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.

Tower houses are a type of defensible house characteristic of the borderlands of England and Scotland. At many sites the tower comprises only one element of a larger house, with at least one wing being attached to it. If it was incorporated within a larger domestic residence, the tower could retain its defensible qualities and could be shut off from the rest of the house in times of trouble. Tower houses were being constructed and used from at least the 13th century to the end of the 16th century. The need for such secure buildings relates to the unsettled and frequently warlike conditions which prevailed in the Borders throughout much of the medieval period. Despite some infilling of the surrounding moat, the site of Blencow Old Hall fortified tower house and moat survives reasonably well and remains unencumbered by modern development. It will retain evidence for the buildings which originally occupied the moated island.


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


The monument includes the remains of the 12th/13th century Blencow Old Hall fortified tower house and its surrounding moat. It is located on gently sloping land between High Farm in Great Blencow and the River Petterell, and includes a platform or island measuring approximately 42m east-west by 30m north-south. On the western end of the island there is a rectangular platform measuring c.18m by 7.5m which contains sandstone building foundations identified as the remains of Blencow Old Hall tower house. Surrounding the island are traces of a partially infilled shallow moat, now dry, measuring approximately 6m wide by 0.2m deep. The monument can be clearly seen on an aerial photograph which also depicts traces of an outlet channel running downhill from the moat's north east corner to the River Petterell. Blencow Old Hall is mentioned for the first time in documentary sources in 1406 when it was given as a conditional gift by the trustees of Thomas of Blencow's estate to Thomas's son William and his wife Joan. A repairing lease dated to the following year and thought to refer to this site gives some idea as to what the property was like; William Southwaick was to repair the roof of the hall with slate, the kiln of six crucks, the barn and the cowshed, and to enclose the garden towards the fold with a stone wall five feet high. By 1513 the family had moved to a new site, the present Blencow Hall some 650m to the west. Documentary sources indicate that Blencow Old Hall was in use as the manor court of the manor of Blencow in 1785. The date of its abandonment is not known.

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: 23774

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Nicholson, , Burns, , A History of Cumb, West and Lancs N of the Sands, (1777), 375
Jones, B C, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Blencow Old Hall, , Vol. 84, (1984), 269-70
D/HG B.1/22 and 16, (1406)
D/HG B/manorial records, (1785)
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Moats, (1988)
In SMR. AP Ref No CCC 2464,10, Cumbria County Council, Blencow Old Hall,
SMR No. 5939, Cumbria SMR, Blencow, (1984)
Title: 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Source Date: 1864 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing