List of castles in Greater Manchester

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Image of Greater Manchester with the general position of castles. 1. Buckton Castle 2. Bury Castle 3. Dunham Castle 4. Manchester Castle 5. Radcliffe Tower 6. Rochdale Castle 7. Stockport Castle 8. Ullerwood Castle 9. Watch Hill Castle Castles in Greater Manchester.jpg
Image of Greater Manchester with the general position of castles. 1.  Buckton Castle 2.  Bury Castle 3.  Dunham Castle 4.  Manchester Castle 5.  Radcliffe Tower 6.  Rochdale Castle 7.  Stockport Castle 8.  Ullerwood Castle 9.  Watch Hill Castle
The standing remains of Radcliffe Tower. Radcliffe tower hdr.jpg
The standing remains of Radcliffe Tower.

There are nine castles in Greater Manchester, a metropolitan county in North West England. They consist of four motte-and-baileys, three fortified manor houses, an enclosure castle, and a possible shell keep. A motte-and-bailey castle has two elements, the motte is an artificial conical mound with a wooden stockade and stronghold on top, usually a stone keep or tower. [1] A bailey is a defended enclosure below the motte, surrounded by a ditch. [2] Motte-and-bailey castles were the most common type of castle in England following the Norman Conquest. [3] A shell keep was a motte with a stone wall rather than a wooden stockade on top; there would have been no tower within the walls. [4] Four of Greater Manchester's castles are scheduled monuments: Buckton, Bury, Radcliffe Tower, and Watch Hill. A scheduled monument is a "nationally important" archaeological site or historic building, given protection against unauthorised change. [5]

Metropolitan county type of county-level administrative division of England

The metropolitan counties are a type of county-level administrative division of England. There are six metropolitan counties, which each cover large urban areas, typically with populations of 1.2 to 2.8 million. They were created in 1974 and are each divided into several metropolitan districts or boroughs.

North West England region of England in United Kingdom

North West England, one of nine official regions of England, consists of the five counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. The North West had a population of 7,052,000 in 2011. It is the third-most-populated region in the United Kingdom after the South East and Greater London. The largest settlements are Manchester, Liverpool, Warrington, Preston, Blackpool and Chester.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.


The purpose of a castle was not simply militaristic, but was also considered to be a stamp of authority over the population of an area and a status symbol. Some would have acted as centres of trade and administration for a manor. [6] The earliest castles in Greater Manchester are Dunham and Watch Hill in Trafford, Ullerwood in Manchester, and Stockport Castle in Stockport. They were first recorded in 1173 as belonging to barons who had rebelled against Henry II, [7] and at least three were motte-and-bailey castles, probably because of the speed and ease with which they could be erected. [8] Hamon de Massey, who owned the Trafford castles and Ullerwood, and Geoffrey de Constentyn, who owned Stockport Castle, were two of the three rebels from Cheshire; the other was the Earl of Chester, the owner of Chester Castle. [7] Castles continued to be built in the area, although the last to be built in Greater Manchester were two fortified manor houses near Bury, built more for comfort than as utilitarian military structures. Bury Castle and Radcliffe Tower followed the national trend in the 13th century; they would most likely have acted as the centre of the manor they served. [9]

Manorialism Economic, political and judicial institution during the Middle Age in Europe

Manorialism or Seignorialism was an organizing principle of rural economies which vested legal and economic power in a Lord of the Manor. He was supported economically from his own direct landholding in a manor, and from the obligatory contributions of a legally subject part of the peasant population under his jurisdiction and that of his manorial court. These obligations could be payable in several ways, in labor, in kind, or, on rare occasions, in coin.

Henry II of England 12th-century King of England, Duke of Aquitaine, and ruler of other European lands

Henry II, also known as Henry Curtmantle, Henry FitzEmpress or Henry Plantagenet, ruled as King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou, Maine, and Nantes; at various times, he also partially controlled Scotland, Wales and the Duchy of Brittany. Before he was 40 he controlled England, large parts of Wales, the eastern half of Ireland and the western half of France—an area that would later come to be called the Angevin Empire.

The first Hamon de Massey was the owner of the manors of Agden, Baguley, Bowdon, Dunham, Hale and Little Bollington after the Norman conquest of England (1066), taking over from the Saxon thegn Aelfward according to Domesday Book. His probable birthplace was La Ferté-Macé or Ferté de La Macé, a recently constructed fortress in Normandy. Hamon was made a baron by Hugh Lupus, by his right as Earl of Chester, from 1071.

List of castles

Buckton Castle Buckton Hill, Carrbrook
SD98920162 [10]
Enclosure castle [10] 1180s [10] Yes [10] Buckton Castle is on Buckton Hill near Carrbrook, overlooking the Tame Valley. [10] Its location possibly allowed the castle to guard the valley. [11] It was probably by the earls of Chester in the 12th century, [12] and was first referred to in 1360, by which time it was ruinous. [13] It was constructed with a stone curtain wall and is surrounded by a ditch 10 metres (33 ft) wide and 6 metres (20 ft) deep; the site covers an area of 730 square metres (0.18 acres). [14] The site has been damaged by 18th-century treasure hunters and is close to Buckton Vale Quarry. [10] [15]
Bury Castle Bury
SD803108 [16]
Fortified manor house [16] 1469 [17] Yes [16] The castle is on a slope overlooking the River Irwell in the centre of modern Bury. It is a fortified manor house constructed from stone and was built for Sir Thomas Pilkington. [17] The castle may have replaced an earlier house on the site, surrounded by a moat. [16] Excavation of known remains has revealed foundation walls 180 metres (590 ft) by 82 metres (269 ft) and a keep or tower 25 metres (82 ft) by 19 metres (62 ft). [18] Bury Castle was razed to the ground after the Wars of the Roses when Thomas Pilkington had his land confiscated. [18] The remains, previously buried, have been excavated for public view, forming the centre piece of Castle Square in the town centre. [16]
Dunham Castle Dunham Massey
Motte [19] Pre-1173 [19] NoIt was first referred to in 1173 and belonged to Hamon de Massey. Dunham Castle was still standing in 1323 and fell into disuse between then and 1362. [19] The castle is 24 metres (79 ft) in diameter and survives to a height of 2 metres (6.6 ft). [20] The site is surrounded by a moat which has been turned into an ornamental lake. [20] It used to be protected as a sheduled monument, but was delisted as it may be a "natural hummock of glacial sand". [21]
Manchester Castle Manchester
SJ839989 [22]
Fortified manor housePre-1184 [23] NoIt is probably located on a bluff where the rivers Irk and Irwell meet, near to Manchester Cathedral, underneath where Chetham's School of Music now is, putting it near the edge of the medieval town of Manchester. [22] [24] It may have originally been a ringwork castle before it became a manor house. [24] First recorded in 1184, in 1215 Manchester Castle was recorded as being held by Gresle, [23] the baron of Manchester. [25] Three rings of ditches have been discovered surrounding the likely site of the castle. [22]
Radcliffe Tower Radcliffe
SD79580751 [26]
Fortified manor house [26] 1403 [26] Yes [26] Located on Church Street East in Bury, the tower is all that remains of a medieval fortified manor house, built in 1403 and constructed from stone with two towers and a moat. [26] The house was demolished in the 19th century leaving only one remaining tower, which is now a Grade I listed building and a scheduled monument. [26] [27] The tower measures 9.6 metres (31 ft) by 17 metres (56 ft) and survives to 6.1 metres (20 ft) in height. [27] It was used as a pig sty before being restored. [26]
Rochdale Castle Rochdale
SD89121286 [28]
Motte-and-bailey [28] Early post Norman Conquest [28] NoThe castle is defended by a ditch and an earth rampart; the motte measures 30 metres (100 ft) at the base and the bailey is 37 metres (121 ft) by 30 metres (100 ft). [28] It lay derelict by the early 13th century. [28] Both the motte and bailey are obscured by housing developments. [29]
Stockport Castle Stockport
SJ897905 [30]
Motte-and-bailey [30] Pre-1173 [30] NoStockport Castle is in the town of Stockport on the south side of a valley, overlooking a ford over the River Mersey. [31] It was first referred to in 1173 when Geoffrey de Constentyn held it against Henry II during the barons' rebellion. [30] Stockport Castle was originally constructed with timber and earthwork defences, though these were replaced with stone walls at the start of the 13th century. [30] The castle lay in ruins by 1535 and was demolished in 1775 to be replaced by a cotton mill. [30] [32] Although no trace of the keep on top of the motte survives, it was recorded in 1775 as being irregular in shape and measuring 31 by 60 metres (102 by 197 ft). The bailey is located to the south-east of the motte. [33]
Ullerwood Castle Ringway
SJ8083 [34]
Shell keep [34] Pre-1173 [8] NoIt has been confused with Watch Hill Castle in nearby Bowdon; both probably belonged to Hamon de Massey. [8] Ullerwood Castle was first referred to in 1173 as one of the castles de Massey held against the King. [8] The site is topped by a modern house. [29]
Watch Hill Castle Bowdon
SJ74798598 [8]
Motte-and-bailey [8] Probable 12th century [8] Yes [8] It is located on the border of Bowdon and Dunham Massey. The castle constructed from timber, with the conical motte measuring 40 metres (130 ft) in diameter at the base and 17 metres (56 ft) at the top; the bailey covers approximately 2,400 square metres (0.59 acres). [8] It is unclear when the castle was built, but it was most likely constructed during the late 12th century and belonged to Hamon de Massey. [8] A suggested late 12th century date for the construction of the castle would mean it was probably constructed to aid in the barons' rebellion against Henry II. [8] The castle had fallen out of use by the 13th century. [8]

See also

Castles in South Yorkshire Wikimedia list article

While there are many castles in South Yorkshire, the majority are manor houses and motte-and-bailey which were commonly found in England after the Norman Conquest.

Castlesteads, Greater Manchester

Castlesteads is an Iron Age promontory fort, situated on the east bank of the River Irwell on a natural promontory in Bury, Greater Manchester. It is listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Excavated pottery indicates the site was occupied between 200BC and 250AD.

Scheduled monuments in Greater Manchester Wikimedia list article

There are 37 scheduled monuments in Greater Manchester, a metropolitan county in North West England. In the United Kingdom, a scheduled monument is a "nationally important" archaeological site or historic building that has been given protection against unauthorised change by being placed on a list by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; English Heritage takes the leading role in identifying such sites. Scheduled monuments are defined in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and the National Heritage Act 1983. They are also referred to as scheduled ancient monuments. There are about 18,300 scheduled monument entries on the list, which is maintained by English Heritage; more than one site can be included in a single entry. While a scheduled monument can also be recognised as a listed building, English Heritage considers listed building status as a better way of protecting buildings than scheduled monument status. If a monument is considered by English Heritage to "no longer merit scheduling" it can be descheduled.

Related Research Articles

Tameside Metropolitan borough in England

The Metropolitan Borough of Tameside is a metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester in North West England. It is named after the River Tame, which flows through the borough and spans the towns of Ashton-under-Lyne, Audenshaw, Denton, Droylsden, Dukinfield, Hyde, Mossley and Stalybridge plus Longdendale. Its western border is approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Manchester city centre. It borders High Peak in Derbyshire to the east, the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham to the north, the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport to the south, and the City of Manchester to the west. As of 2011 the overall population was 219,324.

Stalybridge town in the Metropolitan Borough of Tameside in Greater Manchester, England

Stalybridge is a town in Tameside, Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 23,731 at the 2011 Census. Historically part of Cheshire, it is 8 miles (12.9 km) east of Manchester city centre and 6 miles (9.7 km) north-west of Glossop.

Trafford Metropolitan borough in England

Trafford is a metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester, England, with an estimated population of 235,493 in 2017. It covers 41 square miles (106 km2) and includes the areas of Old Trafford, Stretford, Urmston, Altrincham, Partington and Sale. The borough was formed in 1974 as a merger of the municipal boroughs of Altrincham, Sale, and Stretford, the urban districts of Bowdon, Hale and Urmston and part of Bucklow Rural District. The River Mersey flows through the borough, separating North Trafford from South Trafford, and the historic counties of Lancashire and Cheshire.

Ashton-under-Lyne Market town in the Metropolitan Borough of Tameside, Greater Manchester, England

Ashton-under-Lyne is a market town in Tameside, Greater Manchester, England. The population was 45,198 at the 2011 census. Historically in Lancashire, it is on the north bank of the River Tame, in the foothills of the Pennines, 6.2 miles (10.0 km) east of Manchester.

Ashton upon Mersey area around Sale, Greater Manchester

Ashton upon Mersey is an area of the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 9,693 at the 2011 census. It lies on the south bank of the River Mersey, 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Manchester city centre.

Buckton Castle was a medieval enclosure castle near Carrbrook in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, England. It was surrounded by a 2.8-metre-wide (9 ft) stone curtain wall and a ditch 10 metres (33 ft) wide by 6 metres (20 ft) deep. Buckton is one of the earliest stone castles in North West England and only survives as buried remains overgrown with heather and peat. It was most likely built and demolished in the 12th century. The earliest surviving record of the site dates from 1360, by which time it was lying derelict. The few finds retrieved during archaeological investigations indicate that Buckton Castle may not have been completed.

Nico Ditch Earthwork in England

Nico Ditch is a six-mile (9.7 km) long linear earthwork between Ashton-under-Lyne and Stretford in Greater Manchester, England. It was dug as a defensive fortification, or possibly a boundary marker, between the 5th and 11th century.

Castleshaw Roman Fort human settlement in United Kingdom

Castleshaw Roman fort was a castellum in the Roman province of Britannia. Although there is no evidence to substantiate the claim, it has been suggested that Castleshaw Roman fort is the site of Rigodunum, a Brigantian settlement. The remains of the fort are located on Castle Hill on the eastern side of Castleshaw Valley at the foot of Standedge but overlooking the valley. The hill is on the edge of Castleshaw in Greater Manchester. The fort was constructed in c. AD 79, but fell out of use at some time during the 90s. It was replaced by a smaller fortlet, built in c. 105, around which a civilian settlement grew. It may have served as a logistical and administrative centre, although it was abandoned in the 120s.

Watch Hill Castle medieval castle

Watch Hill Castle is an early medieval motte-and-bailey on the border of Bowdon and Dunham Massey, England. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. As the only Scheduled Ancient Monument in Trafford, it is arguably the most important archaeological site in the borough. The castle is located north of the River Bollin and south of a deep ravine.

Dunham Castle

Dunham Castle is an early medieval castle in Dunham Massey, Greater Manchester, England.

Ullerwood Castle

Ullerwood Castle is an early medieval castle, possibly a shell keep, in Ringway, Greater Manchester, England. The castle is first referred to in 1173, in a document stating Hamo de Masci held the castles of Ullerwood and Dunham. There is no other contemporary documented reference to the castle. Ullerwood Castle has been confused with Watch Hill Castle in nearby Bowdon, but the two are separate castles, though both probably owned by de Masci. The site is underneath a house and surrounded by trees.

Radcliffe Tower Grade I listed fortified house in the United Kingdom

Radcliffe Tower is the only surviving part of a manor house in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester. It is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Monument. The house was rebuilt in 1403 by James de Radcliffe, who was lord of the manor of Radcliffe, and consisted of a stone-built hall and one or two towers, probably built with ashlar blocks. De Radcliffe was given a royal licence to fortify the site including adding crenellations and battlements.

Stockport Castle former motte-and-bailey castle in Stockport, Cheshire

Stockport Castle was a promontory castle in Stockport, Cheshire. The castle was in the medieval town, overlooking a ford over the River Mersey. It was first documented in 1173, but the next mention of it is in 1535 when it was in ruins. What remained of the castle was demolished in 1775.

Mellor hill fort prehistoric site in North West England

Mellor hill fort is a prehistoric site in North West England, that dates from the British Iron Age—about 800 BC to 100 AD. Situated on a hill in Mellor, Greater Manchester, on the western edge of the Peak District, the hill fort overlooks the Cheshire Plain. Although the settlement was founded during the Iron Age, evidence exists of activity on the site as far back as 8,000 BC; during the Bronze Age the hill may have been an area where funerary practices were performed. Artefacts such as a Bronze Age amber necklace indicate the site was high status and that its residents took part in long-distance trade. The settlement was occupied into the Roman period. After the site was abandoned, probably in the 4th century, it was forgotten until its rediscovery in the 1990s.

Flag of Greater Manchester

The Flag of Greater Manchester is the unofficial flag of the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester in England. It is not registered with the Flag Institute, which will not register flags for counties other than for historic counties. As a flag representing a county it is given special legal status by the UK Flag Flying Regulations.

Grade I listed buildings in Greater Manchester Wikimedia list article

There are 48 Grade I listed buildings in Greater Manchester, England. In the United Kingdom, the term listed building refers to a building or other structure officially designated as being of special architectural, historical or cultural significance; Grade I structures are those considered to be "buildings of exceptional interest". In England, the authority for listing under the Planning Act 1990 rests with Historic England, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.


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