Ancient Monuments

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Blencow Old Hall moated tower house

A Scheduled Monument in Dacre, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.6852 / 54°41'6"N

Longitude: -2.8443 / 2°50'39"W

OS Eastings: 345662.443498

OS Northings: 532561.310546

OS Grid: NY456325

Mapcode National: GBR 8GL8.08

Mapcode Global: WH813.8HSM

Entry Name: Blencow Old Hall moated tower house

Scheduled Date: 22 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012827

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23774

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Dacre

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Dacre St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


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.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.

Source: Historic England


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

Source: Historic England

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