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Beeston Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castle of the Rock; Castle de Rupe

In the civil parish of Beeston.
In the historic county of Cheshire.
Modern Authority of Cheshire.
1974 county of Cheshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ53805922
Latitude 53.12870° Longitude -2.69354°

Beeston Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle, and also as a Urban Defence although is doubtful that it was such.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.

Description

Built by Ranulf de Blundeville, 6th Earl of Chester c1220 altered late C13/early C14. Crudely coursed red sandstone. Roughly rectangular enclosure of which approximately half is now demolished. Entrance front: central gateway with D-shaped towers with lateral arrow slits and central pointed gate-arch with rebate. The left-hand turret has the voussoirs of a blocked pointed arch to the lower wall. To the left is curtain walling with the lower courses of a further D-shaped tower. To the right is a similar stretch of walling roughly repaired with rubble at its centre with a D-shaped tower slightly to the left of the right hand corner. The right hand (eastern) wall has a similar D-shaped tower to the centre of the wall. On the death of Ranulf de Blundeville's nephew the castle passed to the Crown. In the late C13 and early C14 Edward I carried out modernising alterations including raising the height of the inner bailey walls and crenellating them. By the late C16 Leland described the castle as "shattered and ruinous". In 1643 it was partially repaired and occupied by parliamentary troops and taken by Royalist forces in the same year. It was partially demolished in 1646 to prevent its repeated use as a stronghold. Archaeological evidence of Bronze and Iron age settlements on the site has been found. King suggests the large outer ward may have been a town enclosure, presumably for an abortive borough, but this suggestion has not been taken up by other authors. (Derived from PastScape and others)

The dramatic location, on the cliff top of an isolated hill, is usually described as defensive, although such a position actually makes the castle very vulnerable to being besieged by a small force. The castle would be visible from Chester and obvious to anyone travelling to that important city and port. The castle was built after Ranulf had returned from Crusading in Egypt and the similarities between Beeston and some Crusader castles has often been made. Ranulf was powerful Earl, had been much involved in government and had numerous powerful enemies. Was this castle built by the elderly soldier mainly as a retreat in times of trouble or fundamentally as a powerful and dramatic symbol of his noble and Crusader status? Whatever the symbolic value of the castle the large outer enclosure was use as a place to muster and accommodate some of Edward I troops before this wars in Wales, although this should not be taken as evidence that the castle was built for this function.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
OS getamap   Streetmap   Old-Maps   Where's the path      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   EarthTools   GeoHack  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   Flashearth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
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The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated on Saturday, March 29, 2014

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