Caxton Moats is one of the most elaborate and best preserved moated sites in Cambridgeshire. The group of enclosures illustrates a sequence of development from a small site, possibly defensive in character, to a large complex reflecting the wealth and social standing of its inhabitants.
It has been suggested that the two sites [here and Burwell] were contemporary, both built on the orders of King Stephen around 1143 as part of a series of fortifications intended to contain the rebellion of Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex. The earliest clear documentary reference to the site, however, dates from 1312, when it was occupied by a dower house of Lady Eleanor de Freville. The expansion of the complex, with additional islands, fishponds and warren may be a reflection of this later period, and it remains possible that the elaborate appearance of the northern island resulted not from a need for defence, but to create a more prestigious dwelling reflecting the status of the later inhabitants.
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