Cowick Kings Manor

Has been described as a Possible Palace (Royal), and also as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are earthwork remains

NameCowick Kings Manor
Alternative NamesManor Hill, Snaith and Cowick
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityEast Riding of Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityHumberside
Civil ParishSnaith and Cowick

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. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The original buildings may have been a royal hunting lodge. Emery writes the wide ditch was dug in 1323, one of only 3 royal manors in the North of England. Little London, just to the north of the manor, may have been the site of a welsh drovers market, both serving this manor and a camp of 'aliens' gaining royal protection. See Llundainfach

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE652205
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 320
  • Loughlin, Neil and Miller, Keith, 1979, A survey of archaeological sites in Humberside carried out for the Humberside Joint Archaeological Committee p. 158
  • Le Patourel, H.E. Jean, 1973, The Moated Sites of Yorkshire (The Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph Series 5) p. 16, 18, 123
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 921-2


  • Hayfield, C. and Greig, J., 1990, 'Excavations and Salvage work on a moated site at Cowick South Humberside, 1976. Part 2: The Finds Assemblage' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 62 p. 111-124
  • Hayfield, C. and Greig, J., 1989, 'Excavations and Salvage work on a moated site at Cowick South Humberside, 1976' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 61 p. 41-70
  • Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 49 p. 11


  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 Yorkshire (London: English Heritage) p. 22 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 Yorkshire (London: English Heritage) p. 22 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 40 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 37 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 37 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 Yorkshire and the Humber (London: English Heritage) p. 47 online copy