Kings Manor moated site, 450m south of Little London


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015307

Date first listed: 12-Jun-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Mar-1997


Ordnance survey map of Kings Manor moated site, 450m south of Little London
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Snaith and Cowick

National Grid Reference: SE 65187 20572


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 of Kings Manor, Cowick survives in reasonable condition and as the island is unencumbered by modern buildings, it will retain evidence of the structures which originally occupied it. Although the ditches have been cleaned out, they will still retain further environmental evidence relating to the period of the monument's construction. The monument is one of a number of moated sites in this part of East Yorkshire, clustering along both the northern and southern sides of the River Humber, which represent a typical form of settlement of low-lying and flood plain land such as this in the medieval period. There are good historical references to the monument which show it as being the site of an important royal manor in the 14th and 15th centuries.


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


The monument includes a polygonal moated site, 450m south of Little London. It has two sides of just under 90m long, meeting almost at right angles to form a westward pointing projection, each flanked by two shorter sides - the northern being around 40m long and the longer, southern side being 68m. The fifth side is about 95m in length and contains the single causewayed entrance to the central island. Overall, the monument is 150m at its widest, east-west by 136m north-south. The surrounding moat is 20m at its widest at the western projecting point, narrowing in places to under 7m and is between 3m and 4m deep. It was surrounded by an exterior bank which, although surviving in places, has been largely levelled through ploughing activity over the course of the years. This ploughing has also removed the above ground remains of the moated site's outer courts. The moat arms were dredged in 1976, when upstanding traces of an inner bank were removed, and the moat bottom was over-cut. During these operations, a large quantity of late medieval to early 16th century pottery, building materials, timber planks, fragments of three wooden bowls, leatherwork, decorated floor tiles and food remains were found. Excavations carried out in the same year located the site of bridge emplacements on the northern side of the western projection, and scatters of medieval tiles on the moat island, although no structural remains were otherwise found to survive within the moated enclosure. Kings Manor moat dates from about 1320, although the evidence from written sources suggest that the moat was dug around the buildings of an existing complex. The original buildings may have been a royal hunting lodge, as King John is known to have hunted in the area. In 1295 Edward I gave the manor of Cowick to Henry de Lacy. By the early 14th century, Cowick manor was an established part of the lands of the house of Lancaster, but then passed into Crown ownership in 1322 during the reign of Edward II, following the fall of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster. Following his acquisition of the manor in 1322, Edward II, who stayed at Cowick frequently during visits to Yorkshire, had a number of improvements and renovations carried out, including the excavation of the moat around the inner court of the manor in 1323. He is also recorded as spending two hundred pounds on improvements, including tiling the roof and installing fire places. Edward III spent a further one hundred and forty pounds on the house and then conferred it on his mother Queen Isabella as a gift in 1327 and then to his Queen, Philippa. In 1370, Cowick moat was granted back to the house of Lancaster, and it is referred to in Duchy of Lancaster papers in an account of 1373-4, which describes the configuration of the hall, living quarters and associated rooms and passages of the manor. The manor later became the residence of Catherine Swinford, third wife of John of Gaunt. In 1422, Thomas Rothwell and Elizabeth his wife, formerly married to Sir Thomas Swinford, owned the property. Following the battle of Bosworth in 1485, the manor again reverted back to the Crown, remaining so for much of the 16th century. The manor house was reputedly in a ruinous state by the Tudor period, with Cowick Manor being removed to a different site - Cowick Hall 600m to the north of the monument between East and West Cowick, where it became the seat of the Dawnay family. The moated site was abandoned sometime after this.

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: 26606

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hayfield, C, James, G, 'The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Excavation And Salvage Work On A Moated Site At Cowick, S. Humb., 1976, , Vol. Vol 61, (1989), 41-70
Le Patourel, H.E J, 'Monograph Series No 5' in The Moated Sites of Yorkshire, (1973), 123
Humberside SMR, Sites and Monuments Record Sheet, (1996)

End of official listing