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Buckton Castle

In the civil parish of Mossley.
In the historic county of Lancashire.
Modern Authority of Oldham.
1974 county of Greater Manchester.
Medieval County of Lancashire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SD98290161
Latitude 53.51118° Longitude -2.01781°

Buckton Castle has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

The monument includes a medieval ringwork castle and the remains of a bailey on the northern side. The monument is on a shoulder of Buckton Moor commanding a view of the valleys of the River Tame and the Carr Brook where they meet. The ringwork is constructed as a raised platform measuring 35m by 40m and is roughly rectangular. The site is enclosed by a bank which is in fact a collapsed wall of mortared blocks of stone with a mortared rubble core. The stonework has been exposed in places by erosion by sheep and human activity, particularly on the western side. This wall was around 2m wide. An outer ditch surrounds the site on the north west and south sides. On the south western side the natural steep slope of the hill provides the outer defence. The ditch is on average 10m wide and up to 6m deep where it is best preserved on the south eastern side. There are two visible entrances on the north west corner and the south east corner and there seems to be evidence for the latter being later in date. The northern entrance is protected by a spur of walling on its western side 25m long and built up on a mound of earth and stone to compensate for the slope. Two related earthworks extend towards the north west from the ringwork. The western earthwork is visible for 50m of its length and the eastern one for 90m. The latter earthwork has a barely visible external ditch about 3m wide. These features enclose an area 75m by 50m forming an oval bailey on the northern side of the ringwork castle. The site has been previously identified as a Romano-British earthwork fort and as a Late Iron Age promontory fort but current opinion, in the light of a more detailed survey in 1991, has decided in favour of a medieval date for the monument. The site was described as a ruined castle in 1360. The site was used as a beacon during the time of the Pilgrimage of Grace and also at the time of the Spanish Armada in the 16th century. (Scheduling Report)

Medieval ringwork castle and the remains of a bailey on the northern side. The ringwork is constructed as a raised platform 35m by 40m and is roughly rectangular. A road with traces of pavement, and two ditches, apparently outworks, are recorded leading to the castle on the north side. Two gold bead chains have been found on the site. The site was used as a beacon in C16 and C17. (PastScape)

Four trenches excavated, in 1996, in the unscheduled 'bailey' area as part of a wider study of the ringwork, which also comprised documentary and topographical surveys. Results from the trenches indicated that the supposed bailey is of recent origin, probably associated with the nearby quarry, and not of medieval date.
Four test-pits excavated in the interior of the castle, in 1998, to assess the survival of the monument following 140 years of treasure hunting damage. Redeposited ditch material was identified overlying charcoal and peat layers which were carbon dated to AD 765-1010; AD 700-1000 & AD 570-765. It appears that this site is also assumed to be an Iron Age hill fort. (PastScape investigation history)
Comments

Recent excavations (2007) have found substantial masonry foundations of a 2.8m thick curtain wall and large rectangular gate tower of C12 date. This 'ringwork' seems to have a masonry castle built by the Earls of Chester as a high status building marking the eastern limit of the Palatine of Chester but its actual function with the very poor area of Tameside is unclear. Hunting is a possibility but administration and policing in an area attractive to outlaws may better explain the location. Grimsditch et al state the area was poor in timber and the castle was built in stone from the start. Despite being scheduled as a ringwork the Gatehouse record from June 2013 now records this as a 'questionable' timber castle.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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