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Moated site at Upper Denton

A Scheduled Monument in Upper Denton, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.9832 / 54°58'59"N

Longitude: -2.6024 / 2°36'8"W

OS Eastings: 361546.527763

OS Northings: 565567.351032

OS Grid: NY615655

Mapcode National: GBR BB8T.DG

Mapcode Global: WH910.001M

Entry Name: Moated site at Upper Denton

Scheduled Date: 24 February 1978

Last Amended: 10 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013606

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27673

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Upper Denton

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Gilsland St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


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.

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.

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.

Source: Historic England


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)

Source: Historic England

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