Beeston Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle, and also as a Certain Urban Defence

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameBeeston Castle
Alternative NamesCastle of the Rock; Castle de Rupe
Historic CountryCheshire
Modern AuthorityCheshire
1974 AuthorityCheshire
Civil ParishBeeston

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)

Gatehouse Comments

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.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ538592
Latitude53.1287002563477
Longitude-2.69354009628296
Eastings353800
Northings359220
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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Copyright David Swift All Rights Reserved
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
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Books

  • 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. 101-2
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 33, 180, 181, 182, 215
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 332
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Lancashire and Cheshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 10-12
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 13-14
  • Ellis. P. (ed), 1992, Beeston Castle, Cheshire: Excavations by Laurence Keen and Peter Hough, 1968-85 (London: English Heritage Archaeological reports Vol. 23) Download via ADS
  • Cullen, P.W. and Hordern, R., 1986, Castles of Cheshire (Crossbow Books) p. 18-21,24-6
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 66-7
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 186
  • Hough, P.R., 1977, 'Beeston Castle' in Archaeological excavations 1976 (HMSO) p. 24
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 559-60
  • Ridgway, Maurice Hill, 1958, 'Medieval Castles' in Sylvester, D. and Nulty, G. (eds), The Historical Atlas of Cheshire (Cheshire Community Council) p. 24-5
  • Toy, Sidney, 1953, The Castles of Great Britain (Heinemann) p. 115-6
  • Neaverson, E., 1947, Mediaeval Castles in North Wales: A study of Sites, Water Supply and Building Stones (London) p. 4-5
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Barber, 1910, in Barber and Ditchfield, Memories of Old Cheshire (London) p. 55-7 (slight)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 163-6 online copy
  • Ormerod, G., 1882 (2edn), History of the County Palatine and city of Chester (London) Vol. 2 p. 273-5
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 117-9 online copy
  • Ormerod, G., 1819, History of the County Palatine and city of Chester (London) Vol. 2 p. 144-48 online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 15
  • Grose, Francis, 1783 (new edn orig 1756), Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 1 p. 27-32 online copy

Antiquarian

  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 55
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1909, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 4 p. 126 online copy; Vol. 5 p. 24, 28, 30 [online copy > http://archive.org/stream/itineraryofjohnl05lelauoft#page/24/mode/1up]
  • Celia Fiennes, 1888, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (London: Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press) Vision of Britain online transcription

Journals

  • Neil Guy, 2015-16, 'The Portcullis - design and development' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 29 p. 132-201
  • Swallow, Rachel, 2014, 'Gateways to Power: The Castles of Ranulf III of Chester and Llywelyn the Great of Gwynedd' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 171 p. 289-311
  • Nevell, Richard, 2012-13, 'Castle gatehouses in North West England' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 26 p. 258-81 online copy
  • McGuicken, R., 2006 (published 2010), ‘Castle in context? Redefining the significance of Beeston Castle, Cheshire Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society Vol. 81 p 65-82
  • McGuicken, R., 2006 (published 2010), ‘Castle in context? An analysis of heritage interpretation and presentation at Beeston Castle, Cheshire’ Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society Vol. 81 p. 83-91
  • Coldstream, N., 2003 'Architects, Advisers and Design at Edward I’s Castles in Wales' Architectural History Vol. 46 p. 19-36
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1984, ‘Castle gates and garden gates’ Architectural History Vol. 27 443-5 (slight)
  • Hough, P.R., 1984, 'Beeston Castle' Current Archaeology Vol. 8.8 p. 245-9
  • Hough, P.R., 1982, 'Beeston Castle: recent Archaeological research for the Department of the Environment' Cheshire Archaeological Bulletin Vol. 8 p. 22-30
  • King, D.J.C., 1981, 'Beeston Castle' 128th Annual Meeting, Chester and North East Wales, 1981 CAA, 12
  • Youngs, S.M. and Clark, J., 1981, 'Medieval Britain in 1980' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 25 p. 200 download copy
  • Hough, P.R., 1979-80, 'Beeston Castle' CBA Newsletter and Calendar Vol. 3 p. 127
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1979, 'Medieval Britain in 1978' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 23 p. 260 download copy
  • Hough, P.R., 1978, 'Excavations at Beeston Castle 1975-77' Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society Vol. 61 p l-23
  • Hough, P.R. and Davey, P.J., 1977, 'Beeston' Cheshire Archaeological Bulletin Vol. 5 p. 14-18
  • Hough, P.R., 1977, 'Beeston Castle' CBA Calendar of Excavations, summaries 1976 p. 3
  • Hough, P.R., 1976, 'Beeston Castle' Cheshire Archaeological Bulletin Vol. 4 p. 21
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • Dove, R.N., 1965-6, Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 75-76 p. 103-122 (Civil War history)
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 112 p. 77-124 (Late–attributed to origin in C12 but regarded as later)
  • Ridgeway, M.H. and King, D.J.C., 1959, 'Beeston Castle, Cheshire' Journal of the Chester and North Wales Architectural Archaeological and Historic Society Vol. 46 p. 1-23
  • Ridgeway, M.H. 1957, Cheshire Historian Vol. 7 p. 35-8
  • 1937, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 94 p. 314-5 online copy
  • 1910, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 65 p. 171-5
  • Ayrton, Wm., 1851, 'Beeston Castle' Journal of the Chester and North Wales Architectural Archaeological and Historic Society Vol. 1 p. 127-34 online copy
  • 1820, The Gentleman's Magazine Part 1 p. 201 online copy

Guide Books

  • Liddiard, R. and McGuicken, R., 2007, Beeston Castle (London: English Heritage)
  • 1995, Beeston Castle (London: English Heritage)
  • Weaver, J., 1987, Beeston Castle (London: English Heritage)
  • Ridgeway, M.H. 1957, Beeston Castle (Cheshire) (reprint of Cheshire Historian article)

Primary Sources

  • Lumby, J.R. (ed), 1866, Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden, Monachi Cestrensis; together with the English Translation of John of Trevisa and of an unknown writer in the 15th century (Rolls Series 41) Vol. 8 p. 198
  • Christie, R.C. (ed), 1887, Annales Cestrienses: Chronicle of the Abbey of S. Werburg, at Chester p. 55, 95 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 133-4
  • SC12/22/96 (Survey of 11 Edward III) The National Archives reference

Other

  • Ryder, Charles, 2011, The spiral stair or vice: Its origins, role and meaning in medieval stone castles (PhD Thesis University of Liverpool) p. 239-43 Download via
  • Evans, C.M., The Medieval Borough of Beaumaris, 1200-1600 (MA Thesis; University Coolege of North Wales, Bangor)