Bury Castle, Lancashire

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are masonry footings remains

NameBury Castle, Lancashire
Alternative Names
Historic CountryLancashire
Modern AuthorityBury
1974 AuthorityGreater Manchester
Civil ParishBury

The monument includes the buried remains of a medieval moated manor house which was fortified after a licence was granted by Edward IV in 1469. It became known as Bury Castle. The castle belonged to the Pilkington family between 1350 to 1489. It passed to the Stanley family by forfeiture to the Crown and from that date the buildings were allowed to fall into decay. The remains were finally destroyed during the Civil War after Royalists, having taken shelter in the ruins, surrendered following the Battle of Ribblesdale. The original platform for the moated manor house measured 47m by 41m with a moat 6m wide and 1.5m deep. The platform was constructed of clay and gravel supported by large pebbles. On this the original house was built in stone with walls 2m thick. This measured 25m by 20m. This building forms the bulk of the later fortified dwelling. At the time of fortification the moat was cleaned and widened and the platform reduced by 6m on average on the southern side. The vertical inside slope was revetted in stone providing a foundation for a buttressed curtain wall around the platform and a small tower on the south side. On the east side a bridge was constructed in stone. Subsequent developments on the site included the dismantling of the available stonework for other buildings and the erection of stock fences and digging of rubbish pits on the platform. The moat became filled with refuse. Parts of the site were excavated between 1972 and 1977 and revealed the sequences of occupation on the site and showed that substantial parts of the buttressed curtain wall survive in foundations on the site where later buildings with cellars have not destroyed the remains. All road surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included. (Scheduling Report)

Remains of medieval moated manor house fortified by licence granted by Edward IV in 1469, after which it became known as Bury Castle

It was later razed to the ground by order of Henry Tudor. Excavation of the site in the 1970s revealed six main phases of development and decline, the first construction of a house platform and moat being in 1359-1400. Some remains have now been consolidated and are on public view. (PastScape)

It 'stood in Castle croft, close to the town, on the banks of the old course of the Irwell'; Baines, Dir. i, 576. The 'old course' is represented by the boundary of the township of Elton. There is a plan in Aikin's Country Round Manchester, 269; and a description of remains found in 1864 in Trans. Hist. Soc. xx, 17–20; and see Lancs. and Ches. Antiq. Soc. xxii, 152 (sic). Some of the stones, showing the masons' marks, have been built into the walls of the volunteer drill hall. (VCH)

Licence to crenellate the manor house at Bury was granted in 1469 when it became known as Bury Castle. It was later razed to the ground by order of Henry Tudor. In 1865, while excavating for a sewer on 'Castle Croft', foundation walls of the Castle were discovered three feet below the surface. They consisted of a quadrangular wall about 120ft by 113ft enclosing a massive keep. Also within the enclosure stood the fortified manor house measuring about 83ft by 63ft in the form of a parallelogram. There had further been a large outer courtyard about 600ft by 450ft. Coins from the reign of Edward have been dug up from time to time in the neighbouring gardens (Pilkington 1912).

No visible remains, the site is now covered by modern development (First OS Archaeology Field Investigator 22/01/1976).

SD 804112. Excavation on the site of Castle Croft in 1973 by N Tyson for Bury Museum and Bury Archaeological Society located the south section of a buttressed enclosing wall and the remains of an earlier turf wall in front. Medieval pottery, wood and leather were recovered. (Med. Arch. 1974)

Excavations between 1973 and 1977 defined 6 phases of the development and decline of Bury Castle:

1) (1359-1400) Construction of house platform (c47 x 41m) and first phase of moat.

2) (c1470) Moat widening and construction of enclosing wall.

3) (c1490-1600) Dismantling of standing structures and silting of moat.

4) (c1600-1700) Attempts at moat consolidation and extension of property boundaries.

5) (c1700-1800) Completion of consolidation and site development.

6) (1800-1865) Further development leading to Hardwick's discoveries of 1865. (G.M.Arch.J. 1986). (PastScape)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSD803108
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Photograph by Peter E Presford. All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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.

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  • Grimsditch, Brian, Nevell, Michael and Nevell, Richard, 2012, Buckton Castle and the Castles of the North West England (University of Salford Archaeological Monograph 2) p. 105-6
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Lancashire and Cheshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 23
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 198
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 136 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 248
  • Gibson, Leslie Irving, 1977, Lancashire Castles and Towers (Dalesman Books)
  • Pilkington, John, 1912 (3edn), History of The Pilkington Family of Lancashire p. 64-67 online copy
  • Farrer, William and Brownbill, J. (eds), 1911, VCH Lancashire Vol. 5 p. 131 online transcription
  • Fishwick, 1907, 'Castles and Fortified Houses' in Fishwick and P.H. Ditchfield (eds), Memorials of Old Lancashire (London: Bemrose and sons) Vol. 2 p. 21 online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 182-3 online copy
  • Baines, E., 1825, Lancashire History, Directory and Gazetteer (Liverpool) Vol. 1 p. 576 online copy
  • Aiken, John, 1795, A description of the country from thirty to forty miles round Manchester... (London) p. 269


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 270
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 43 online copy


  • Ashworth, Terry, 1999, 'The rediscovery of Bury Castle' Bury Local History Society Journal
  • 1986, The Greater Manchester Archaeological Journal Vol. 2 p. 89-130
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1974, 'Medieval Britain in 1973' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 18 p. 209 download copy
  • Hardwick, C., 1867-8, 'On the ancient castle at Bury, Lancashire' Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire Vol. 20 p. 17-32 online copy
  • Taylor, H., 1904, 'The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire' Transactions of the Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 22 p. 132-3 online copy

Guide Books

  • Arrowsmith, P., 1999, Bury Castle: an introduction to the scheduled ancient monument (Bury: Bury Metropolitan Borough Council)

Primary Sources

  • 1876 The Thirty-seventh Annual Report of Deputy Keeper of the Public Record Part . 1, 179, No. 42 (Charters of the Duchy of Lancaster)