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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 368554

Hob Uid: 368554
Location :
Cambridgeshire
South Cambridgeshire
Bassingbourn cum Kneesworth
Grid Ref : TL3258345093
Summary : Remains of a moated site, formerly occupied by a fortified manor house, documented in 1268. Cropmark traces of the moat and two ditched approach roads to the site could be seen on aerial photographs.
More information : (TL 325451) Entrenchment (NR) (Double moat shown) (1)

(TL 325451) John O'Gaunt's House (NR) (site of) (NAT) Moats (NR) (2)

John of Gaunt's House, Northend, Bassingbourn. In 1266 Warin de Bassingbourn received a licence to enclose his house with a dyke and a wall of stones and to crenellate it. When he died in
1268 his castle on this site is specifically mentioned and the
site was still called Castle Manor in Lyson's time. The association with John of Gaunt is doubtful, but Bassingbourn market was confirmed to him by Edward III. (3-5)

The site was well preserved in 1887 and some structural features survived, but in that year the whole area was turned over by coprolite diggers. The site now consists of a large sub rectangular moated area, 400 feet by 300 feet, approached from the south by a causeway 600 feet long from the Bassingbourn - Shingay road. In the northern part of the moated area and abutting close to the outer moat there is a rectangular mound, 200 feet by 90 feet, closely surrounded by a moat averaging about 30 feet wide. This area was the strongest part of the site and the mound is said to have stood to a height of 10-11feet above the general ground level before 1887. It has now been reduced to about 3 feet and much of it has been used to fill up the surrounding moat. At each side of the causeway entrance, the outer moat passes round two semi-circular projections which may once have carried bastions overlooking the entrance.

It is doubtful whether this site can truly be regarded as a castle, but the form of the inner mound suggests that it belongs to a class of minor local strongholds of the 12th century in its earlier form.

The whole area inside the outer moat is now under the plough and only traces can be seen on the north and east sides.

The entire site is now ploughed and at present under winter crop. Although the slopes have been considerably spread, an elevation still marks the site of the island. (6)

Further details of the site have been revealed by air photography. At the centre of the site is a prominent sub-rectangular enclosure (A) having a wide moat with sharp angles. Despite long continual ploughing, the ground within the moat still stands up to 1.5m above the surrounding land. This enclosure occupies the northern half of a roughly square area delineated by a ditch or moat (B) which has been laid out with considrable care. Ont the south front the ditch curves outwrds to form two projecting semi-circles with similar features on the east front, and the north-east corner. Ploughing has confirmed that the sides of the ditch were faced with stone.

There is a third enclosure (C), about 140m by 200m, extending further north than the other works. It is bounded by a ditch with a chalk inner bank, and has sharp angles.

It is suggested that the rectangular site (A) is a 12th century homestead moat and that the outer moat (B) represents the fortification of the site in 1266. (7)

TL32534515 - The work lies on flat arable land bounded to the west by a small stream. It has been much reduced by ploughing.

The main feature of the earthwork is a substantial sub-rectangular dry moat with outer retaining banks, measuring overall 145m SW-NE by 124m transversely. The ditch averages 20m wide and has a maximum depth of 1.5m, with the outer retaining banks also averaging 20m wide and ataining a height of 1.0m above ground level. No bank seems to have existed at the south angle and this agrees with the position of an outfall ditch revealed by air photography (Authy. 7).

The island rises above ground level from 1.2m in the NE to 1.7m at the SW, where a low platform suggests the site of the main house to be. No foundations can be seen, but the entire area is covered with flint rubble and tile fragments.

Traces of a further outer enclosure exist; to the NW of the
moat at the NW angle as a scarp with a maximum height of 0.4m and alongside the NE arm of the moat as a very slight unsurveyable depression (0.1m)

No surface evidence survives of the other features which appear on the aerial photograph, or the OS 1:2500 survey of 1886 or the V.C.H. survey of 1948. The feature while loosely called a castle would be more correctly described as a fortified manor-house.

Surveyed at 1:2500. (8)

Aerial photographs taken March 27th 2002 show the full extent of the site as cropmarks, inlcuding a number of features - field boundaries to the SE of the site in particular - which were extant on the OS first edition. Some cropmark features, including a small D-shaped enclosure, seem likely to be of earlier, perhaps prehistoric or Roman, date. (9)

Listed by Cathcart King. (10)

A medieval moated complex is visible as cropmarks and earthworks on air photographs and lidar. A rectangular moat is visible at TL 3252 4516, and is formed by a broad circuit of ditch. The internal measurements of the moat are 76m x 51m, with the moat arms being approximately 13m across. The area within the moat is a raised mound, and there appears to be a raised up-cast bank outside of the moat ditch too, though less pronounced. A second moated enclosure surrounds the first. It is slightly offset to the northwest and measures approximately 255m x 153m. This moated enclosure is largely rectilinear though; to the south and east are four semi-circular projections. Two are located both sides of the entranceway along the southern arm and two slightly smaller ones are visible on the eastern arm. The entrance to the site is marked by an avenue, formed by two parallel ditches. The avenue and a water channel were extant and used as field boundaries until the 1950s. Outside the moated area to the west, a circular ditched feature is partially visible as a cropmark and has a diameter of approximately 14m, it may potentially mark the location of a dovecote. Also to the west are a number of pits and a water channel. The features are very plough levelled on the latest 2011 lidar imagery, but the majority of the features are still discernible as earthworks. Extensive post medieval coprolite mining is visible to the north and west of the feature, but does not appear to have slighted the moat complex. (11-13)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1st Edn 1" (undated)
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Source Number : 2
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:2500 1886
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Source Number : 11
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR 24372/10 18-JUL-2006
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Source Number : 12
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR 21598/22 27-MAR-2002
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Source Number : 13
Source : Light detection and ranging (lidar) airborne survey
Source details : LIDAR TL3245 DSM 16-OCT-2010
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Magna Brit 2 1 Cambs 1808 72 (Lysons)
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Source Number : 4
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely : volume two
Source details :
Page(s) : 15-16
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Source Number : 5
Source : The place-names of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely
Source details :
Page(s) : 53
Figs. :
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Vol(s) : vol.19
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 BHS 24-Nov-1972
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Source Number : 7
Source : Antiquity
Source details :
Page(s) : 136-9
Figs. : 1
Plates : XX
Vol(s) : 48, 1974
Source Number : 8
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 GJM 08-Oct-1981
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Source Number : 9
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR 21598/17 TL 3245/9 27-MAR-2002
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Source Number : 10
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 38
Figs. :
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Documented in 1268
Monument End Date : 1268
Monument Start Date : 1268
Monument Type : Fortified Manor House, Moat, Castle, Drive, Avenue (Landscape Feature), Pit, Water Channel, Dovecote
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Earthwork, Conjectural Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CB 88
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 20420
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cambridgeshire)
External Cross Reference Number : MCB2266
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TL 34 NW 18
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TL 34 NW 18
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1972-11-24
End Date : 1972-11-24
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TL 34 NW 18
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1981-10-08
End Date : 1981-10-08
Associated Activities : Primary, EH AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE (SOUTH): 2001-2
Activity type : AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE
Start Date : 2001-04-01
End Date : 2002-03-31
Associated Activities : Primary, EH AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE (SOUTH): 2006-7
Activity type : AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE
Start Date : 2006-04-01
End Date : 2007-03-31