The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Castle Rushen

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Russin; Castellum de russyn

In the parish of Castletown.
On the Isle of Man.

OS Map Grid Reference: SC26516745
Latitude 54.07366° Longitude -4.65303°

Castle Rushen has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are major building remains.

This site is a building or structure protected by law.


Castle Rushen is largely a 13th and 14th century structure although the lower half of the keep preserves 12th century work. The outer glacis (formerly more extensive), the Round Tower and the Derby House date from the 16th century. The castle was the seat of government from the 12th until the 19th centuries. During the Civil War, the castle was held for the King and was evidently the last stronghold of the Royalist cause. The keep was converted into a prison between 1813 - 1827 when the present Court House was made into the Outer Gatehouse (O'Neil 1960)
The prison moved to Douglas in 1891, and Castle Rushen was restored as an historical monument in 1910 (Serjeant 1960-63).
The Castle is well preserved and open to the public. Derby House contains the custodian's living quarters and offices (F1 DE 05 12 55). (PastScape)

Castle Rushen is widely regarded as one of the most complete medieval fortresses in Europe. It was begun by the Norse kings of Man in the later 12th century, though its form was influenced by Anglo-Norman design. It was captured by Robert Bruce during a Scottish raid in 1313 that was intended to frustrate English activity in the Irish Sea, but seems to have undergone repair and significant development soon after. In 1417 it was the location for a Tynwald assembly and again in 1422 for an assembly held before Sir John Stanley, the new English overlord. At this time it had attained its modern height and a curtain wall had been added. By the 16th century further development had taken place, transforming it into an artillery fortress protected against cannon-fire by an outer glacis. In the mid 17th century the castle was refortified by James Stanley the 7th Earl of Derby as part of his defence of the Island against Parliamentary forces. In spite of this the castle fell due to a rebellion by the Manx against the Stanley family. More recently the castle served a more administrative function, acting as the governor’s residence and as a prison. Just over a century ago, the many late accretions resulting from its development as a prison were removed, restoring it to some of its former glory as a medieval fortress and the seat of kings whose power held sway over the Irish Sea and the Western Isles of Scotland. (Manx National Heritage)

Principal castle of the island. Plain square tower of late 12th or early 13th century, used as a nucleus of a curious cruciform block, partly open, probably built in the 3rd quarter of the the 13th century by Norse or Scots owners. This is surrounded by a polygonal ward of the later 14th century with small square towers and a long oblique entrance, extended in the 16th century. Under Henry VIII the whole was surrounded by a raised glacis with a paved face, with passages and gunholes, also three small round towers; one of these and part of the glacis remain. First mentioned 1265; taken by the Scots 1313; again taken 1651. Attacked unsuccessfully 1377. (King 1983)

Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   Vision of Britain   Geology          
Air Photos >
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   Flashearth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of English Heritage, the various governments of the islands, other organisations and individuals. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
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.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated on Tuesday, April 18, 2017