Moated site at Upper Denton


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013606

Date first listed: 24-Feb-1978

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Dec-1995


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

County: Cumbria

District: Carlisle (District Authority)

Parish: Upper Denton

National Grid Reference: NY 61548 65567


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 Upper Denton survives reasonably well, its earthworks remaining well preserved. It is unencumbered by modern development and will retain evidence for the building which originally occupied the island. It is an unusually small example of a moated site and demonstrates the diversity in form of this class of monument.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site located at the northern end of Upper Denton village on gently sloping ground at the top of the valley side overlooking the River Irthing. It includes an island or platform surrounded by a dry moat which in turn is flanked by an outer bank. The island has been artificially levelled to create a flat platform on which a building would originally have stood; it measures approximately 12m north-south by 8m east-west. The surrounding dry moat measures up to 2m wide by 0.3m deep and the sloping land indicates that it never held water but was used to channel water around the building platform and down the hillslope. The moat is flanked by an outer bank measuring 2m-3.5m wide and up to 0.4m high. There are gaps at the outer bank's north west and north east corners from where the water would have run down the hillslope. There is an entrance through the outer bank at the centre of the monument's south side and faint traces of a low causeway c.2m wide can be seen crossing the ditch and giving access to the island. The moated site is thought to be the precursor of the bastle which is located some 35m to the south east.

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: 27673

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
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. XIII, (1913), 28
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Moats, (1988)
SMR No. 319, Cumbria SMR, Moated Site at Upper Denton, (1987)

End of official listing