Moated Sites, Earthworks, and Ponds at Kirtling Tower


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 Cambridgeshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 68733 57217, TL 68779 57528, TL 68833 57339

Reasons for Designation

The Kirtling Tower site is a large well-preserved and complex monument, reflecting the high status of the site in the Tudor period. It exhibits a diverse range of features including the rare survival of earthwork remains of an ornamental garden. Importantly, it is known to lie on the site of a Saxon Castle, archaeological remains of which are likely to survive beneath the present site.


The monument consists of three separate areas. The first area contains the main moat at Kirtling Tower which is the largest in the county measuring 180m x 150m and is known to occupy the site of a Saxon Castle owned by King Harold. It has three well defined arms to the north, east and west, and at the south end of the moat stands a Tudor gatehouse and attached 19th century buildings, all listed Grade I. The moat ditches average 26m in width and vary in depth from 1m to 3.6m, and the eastern section of the moat remains waterlogged. Earthworks of a dam or sluice which maintained the water level in the west ditch can be seen at the north west corner of the moat. A bridge here would have led from the island to a building and to a walkway which remains along the length of the west ditch. On the moat island stands a large house platform measuring 60m x 55m x 6m high. This is the remains of a Tudor mansion built c1530 for Lord North, and it is recorded that Queen Elizabeth I visited the house in 1578. The house was demolished in 1801, but substantial remains of footings and cellars can be clearly identified on the platform. Linear features radiating from the edge of the house platform denote the site of stepped ornamental flower beds. Terraces, ditches and ponds to the east of the moat are further remains of the water management system. A water outlet ran eastwards to ponds through these earthworks, possibly in the form of a cascade. Earthworks representing a hollow way leading towards the south-east corner of the moated site are also included in this area. The second area of the monument lies about 110m south east of the gatehouse and consists of a second smaller moat measuring 75m x 75m. This was an integral part of the original layout of the site and enclosed buildings, possibly stables. The third area consists of an impressive ornamental earthwork running for 270m through parkland, which was added in the early 17th century, providing a formal approach to the Tudor gatehouse, house and moat. All standing buildings and made up roads on the site are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath these 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Bailey, I S, Kirtling, (1979)
Cambridge University Library, , Transcript of Kirtling Survey, (1587)
CCRO, , Enclosure Award, Kirtling, (1814)
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Cambridgeshire, (1970)
RCHM, , Kirtling Tower, (1989)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 25", Cambs 498 Source Date: 1885 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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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