Castles of England/Greater Manchester

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There are two castles of note in Greater Manchester.

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Notes (Key)
Buckton Castle Ringwork 110112th century Earthworks HALUKAL icon.svg Situated on Buckton Moor, 1123 ft above sea level, hilltop, possibly site of Iron Age hill fort.
Radcliffe Tower Tower house 14031403 Fragment HCCL icon.svg
Local authority

Buckton Castle[edit]

A view of the surviving defensive ditch around the site of Buckton Castle

Buckton Castle is a medieval ringwork near Carrbrook, Stalybridge. The castle is oval, with a 3m wide stone curtain wall surrounded by a 10m wide, 6m deep ditch. The castle was probably constructed for William de Neville in the late 12th century; it was lying derelict by 1360. The small number of finds retrieved during archaeological investigation of the site indicates that Buckton Castle may not have been completed.

The castle stands 340m above sea level on Buckton Hill, a steep sandstone ridge. The castle's positioning may have been to allow its garrison to guard the Tame Valley; both castle and valley were in the medieval manor of Tintwistle.

This plan was drawn by George Ormerod in 1817; it shows the shape of the castle, with orientation. He did not include any internal features.

The entrance to the ringwork is to the northwest of the site. Near the entrance are the possible remains of a stone tower. On the south-facing side of the site are the remains of a stone curtain wall. The north-west gateway was protected by a stone tower; the wall thickness suggests the tower was probably two storeys high.

The interior of the castle is artificially raised 1.5m above ground level. Ringworks were an uncommon form of fortification in medieval England, with the majority of castles being motte-and-baileys, as demonstrated by the fact that Buckton Castle was one of only three ringworks in the historic counties of Cheshire and Lancashire. Buckton may be a ringwork because the local soil was too thin to build a motte. According to a 1360 survey of property in Longdendale, Buckton Castle may have had a hall and a chapel. In the 18th century, antiquarian Thomas Percival recorded a well within the castle, and walls of buildings inside the castle still standing to a height of 2m. However, these features were no longer obvious when Ormerod wrote about the castle in 1817, and have not been discovered by archaeological excavations.

The castle is now overgrown with heather and peat, and there are no above-ground ruins.

Radcliffe Tower[edit]

The tower in the early nineteenth century with the manor house on the right prior to its demolition.
The standing remains of Radcliffe Tower

Radcliffe Tower is the only surviving part of a manor house in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester. 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.

The manor house was demolished in the 19th century leaving only the tower. The tower measures 10.5 yards by 19 yards and survives to about 20 feet in height.