Maxey Castle

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameMaxey Castle
Alternative NamesMakeseye
Historic CountryNorthamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough
Modern AuthorityPeterborough; City of
1974 AuthorityCambridgeshire
Civil ParishMaxey

Licence to embattle this moated manor was granted in 1374 - 1375. A C16 map in the Public Record Office has a picture of the castle, showing it to have had a curtain wall with high corner towers and a tall central tower or keep. There also appears to have been flood defences - 2 banks, the outer with a ditch parallel to the NE angle of the moat. Of the castle only the moat remains. Some of it was in ruins by Lelands' time and it was clear soon enough to be tilled by ridge and furrow. The remaining portion of the moat is water-filled; the island is part orchard and part garden. Resurveyed at 1/2500. At TF12980875 are the remains of a fish pond; surveyed at 1/2500. Remains of Maxey Castle medieval moat (not traced because shown on map) (A Spedding 23/03/1984, CUCAP AP AKO 26 used) Square central island - 50m across, surrounded by a wet moat on three sides. The other (SE side) has been largely infilled. A small rectangular fishpond next to Mill Road - the pond is dry and measures 45m NE/SE axis by 15m NW/SW axis c1.5m deep, moutlet channel, draining into boundary ditch. (City of Peterborough HER)

Although the moat has been partially damaged by infilling and clearance, Maxey Castle remains a well preserved example of a single-island moated site, with surviving features related to water management and an associated fishpond. The area to the north of the moated enclosure contains a rare example of an outer courtyard surrounded by flood defences, the importance of which is enhanced by the evidence contained in a 16th century map held in the Public Record Office. The history of Maxey Castle is well documented and shows that occupation was of a relatively limited duration. The monument is therefore of considerable significance for the study of moated sites since it represents a particular stage in their development

The silts within the ditches, the fishpond and the undisturbed section of the moat will contain environmental and artefactual evidence related to the occupation of the site. The island and courtyard will retain buried remains including the foundations of buildings.

Maxey Castle is situated at Castle End on the north edge of the village of Maxey. The castle is a later medieval moated site with outworks to the north and north east and an associated fishpond to the south east. The moated site includes a square central island, measuring 50m across, which is surrounded by a wet moat on the south west, north west and north east sides. The remaining side, the south east, has been largely infilled to the level of the external ground surface although the moat ditch will survive as a buried feature. Where the moat is open it is about 16m wide. The ditches have been cleared of silt recently using a machine, and the upcast material dumped on the island; as a result the ditches are now permanently wet. Two duck houses, reached from the island, have been constructed in the moat. There is a counterscarp bank, between 6m and 10m wide, on the north west and north east sides of the moat. On the north east side there is a broad, level terrace, 6m wide, beyond the outer bank. A 10m wide gully leads almost directly north east from the south east corner of the moat. This is thought to be an internal boundary feature. A 5m wide and 0.4m deep leat leads from the south east corner of the moat to a small rectangular fishpond lying adjacent to Mill Road. The pond, which is dry, measures 45m along the north east/south west axis, and 15m acoss the north west-south east axis. It is about 1.5m deep and both the north east end and the north west side are slightly embanked. There is a 5m wide outlet channel at the eastern end of the south east side which drains into the boundary ditch flanking the road. This ditch forms part of the southern boundary ditch of the group of enclosures to the north and north east of the moated site. It is for the most part 4m wide and flanked by an internal bank, 4m wide and 0.6m high. The ditch returns along the east side, abutting the boundary fence, for approximately 160m before terminating abruptly. At a point some 20m to the south of the ditch terminal the bank and ditch divides with a branch of the bank projecting westwards for approximately 90m before turning north again. To the north and east of the moat a second bank, approximately 0.5m high and 4m-6m wide, runs parallel to the outer flood defences, some 8m within the outer bank. The second bank is also flanked by an external ditch, approximately 0.4m deep and 3m-4m wide. This feature continues parallel to the north west arm of the moated enclosure. These two ditch systems, which define a group of enclosures to the north east and north of the moated site, probably served to define paddocks and courtyards associated with the moated site, although their primary purpose seems to have been as flood defences. The history of Maxey Castle is well documented and indicates that occupation was relatively short-lived. A licence to crenellate (fortify) the moated manor was granted in 1374-75. By the mid-16th century, however, Leland observed that parts of the site were already ruinous. A 16th century illustration of the castle shows it to have had a tall central tower or keep and a number of earthwork banks, the outer flanked by a ditch parallel to the north east angle of the moat. (Scheduling Report)

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 ReferenceTF129088
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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.

Calculate Print


  • Lowerre, A.G., 2005, Placing Castles in the Conquest. Landscape, Lordship and Local Politics in the South-Eastern Midlands, 1066-1100 (Oxford: John and Erica Hedges Ltd: BAR British Series 385) p. 249
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, Index and Amendments to Mike Salter's English Castles Books (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 8
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 183
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 316
  • Serjeantson, R.M., Ryland, W. and Adkins, D. (eds), 1906, VCH Northamptonshire Vol. 2 p. 502-3 (tenurial history) online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 417 online copy


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 300, 302
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 32 online copy


  • Jones, M.K., 1986, Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Vol. 21 p. 11

Primary Sources


  • Lowerre, A.G., 2004, Placing Castles in the Conquest. Landscape, Lordship and Local Politics in the South-Eastern Midlands, 1066-1100 (PhD thesis: Boston College) p. 550