Shank Castle

Has been described as a Certain Tower House, and also as a Certain Bastle

There are no visible remains

NameShank Castle
Alternative Nameswaikelli; Shanke
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishSolport

Shank Castle was demolished in 1951/2, owing to the dangerous state of the fabric. Dating evidence is derived from Thomas Denton's report to Lord William Howard, stating that it was built by Sir William Hutton when steward to George, Earl of Cumberland, who died in 1605. Hutton lived at Shank for some twenty years, and was an old man in 1622. "Nevertheless, Curwen hazarded the guess that it was a pele-tower of earlier date, adapted by Sir William, and McIntire sought to demonstrate this by alleged differences in the measurements of the walls. But neither the plan nor any structural details suggested that this was so, either to the writer or to Mr. F.C. Vickery, who made the survey before demolition. There is, moreover, no known mention of the castle before the 17th century." It is not known when the castle became a farmhouse and when it was finally deserted for the adjoining smaller house. Lysons, in 1816, describes it as a ruin; it was used as a storehouse until recently. The castle was a rectangular tower, 52 ft. long by 29 ft. 6 in. wide, and about 37 ft. high to the top of the parapet. The longer axis lay NE-SW; there was no trace of an enclosure having been bonded into any of the walls, which were of roughly squared and coursed rubble. The tower had four floors; the first floor contained the principal living rooms and the main entrance door. There were no dates, initials, or armorial devices. The form of the parapet is uncertain as it was largely destroyed, but whatever its form it was not an even series of battlements (PastScape–ref. Rigold 1954)

The demense lands are called the Shank, where are ruins of an old castle, so decayed as not to be worth a particular description. (Hutchinson, 1794)

Gatehouse Comments

This was large and late for a pele tower and is better described as a tower house, in the sense of being an integral building rather than a solar block attached to a hall, although it was a gentry status rather than baronial building. A C19 watercolour shows a Scottish style tower house of 4-5 storeys. Said to be marked 'waikelli' on 1590 map, without a symbol, but this seems to a mistranscribing of Lord Burghley's difficult handwriting of bracke'hill i.e. Brackenhill Tower Is marked as a tower 'Shanke' on 1607 map. Was demolished by the owner despite the offer of financial assistance for repair in 1952. Had it been repaired its conversion it suitable modern accommodation would have been relatively easy and it would have, undoubtable, been a sought after property.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY469704
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  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 242 (plan)
  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 88
  • Jackson, M.J.,1990, Castles of Cumbria (Carlisle: Carel Press) p. 87
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 90
  • Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles p. 170
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 395
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Bulmer, T.F., 1901, History, Topography, and Directory Of Cumberland p. 279 (slight) online transcription
  • Taylor, M.W., 1892, Old Manorial Halls of Westmorland and Cumberland (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 8) p. 351 online copy
  • Jeffrey, A., 1864, History and Antiquities of Roxburghshire Vol. 4 p. 232 (facsimile of map) online copy
  • Lysons, Daniel and Samuel, 1816,'Parishes: Renwick - Stapleton' Magna Britannia Vol. 4: Cumberland p. 159 online transcription
  • Hutchinson, Wm., 1794, The history of the county of Cumberland Vol. 1 p. 559 view online copy


  • < >Rigold, S.E., 1954, 'Shank Castle, Cumberland' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 54 p. 144-151 online copy < >
  • McIntire, W.T., 1922, 'Shank Castle' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 22 p. 162-8 online copy
  • Graham, T.H.B., 1909, 'Six Extinct Cumberland Castles' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 9 p. 217-18 online copy

Primary Sources

  • 1607, Platt of the Forrest of Nicholl and the Mannor of Liddale, Arthurett and Randelinton with the Debatable groundes online copy (Shanke)