Ancient Monuments

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Kings Manor moated site, 450m south of Little London

A Scheduled Monument in Snaith and Cowick, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Latitude: 53.6776 / 53°40'39"N

Longitude: -1.0145 / 1°0'52"W

OS Eastings: 465194.982404

OS Northings: 420572.139084

OS Grid: SE651205

Mapcode National: GBR PTCX.5F

Mapcode Global: WHFDH.DT4L

Entry Name: Kings Manor moated site, 450m south of Little London

Scheduled Date: 12 June 1962

Last Amended: 14 March 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015307

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26606

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Snaith and Cowick

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Great Snaith

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield


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
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
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

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 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.

Source: Historic England


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)

Source: Historic England

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