Halton Castle, Runcorn

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameHalton Castle, Runcorn
Alternative NamesHaiton
Historic CountryCheshire
Modern AuthorityHalton
1974 AuthorityCheshire
Civil ParishRuncorn

The ruined castle remains at Halton which stands on a prominent hill of red sandstone and overlooks the estuary of the River Mersey to the north and east. The first castle on the site was a motte and bailey timber castle built by Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, in circa 1070. This was formed by cutting off the highest part of the promontory on the north western side by a ditch 8 metres wide and utilising the natural platform on the rest of the hilltop as a bailey. The castle was occupied by Nigel, the first baron of Halton. In the subsequent three centuries the phases of building and rebuilding in stone are obscured since all rebuilding took place after scraping the previous phase off the bedrock and rebuilding on that foundation. By circa 1250 the curtain wall had been built, together with a square tower on the west side, a round tower at the north end, and stone buildings in a range along the north western side. During this period, from C11 to C13, the ownership passed to the Lacy family, the Lords of Pontefract, who became Dukes of Lancaster in 1311. In C15 a gatehouse was constructed. The castle was used as a prison for Roman Catholic recusants in 1579. It was besieged and captured by Sir William Brereton in 1643 and partly demolished on Cromwells orders in 1644. In 1738 the gatehouse was replaced by a new courthouse and prison and a series of small lock-ups built in the castle interior. Nothing remains of the early timber castle phase of the buildings and the ditch of the early motte site was filled in in C13. The curtain wall only survives as foundations. The stone tower dates from C13 and measures 12m square at the base. Next to this are the foundations of the kitchen range. In circa 1800 the walls of a folly were constructed to the east of the courthouse where they still form a castellated feature

(PastScape)

Halton Castle is situated 325 ft.above sea level in a commanding position and covering a wide prospect in all directions.It is constructed of red sandstone and erected on living rock, in places the rock forming an integral part of the defences. Extant remains consist of a shell keep with internal domestic buildings, curtain walling (including two towers) surrounding the bailey, and an inner gateway. All present crenellations are modern and the whole has been restored at various periods - in some instances entire stretches of wall having been rebuilt. Apart from modern restoration, blocked slit windows and a blocked sally-port - the blocking contemporary with the curtaining - indicate improvements or modifications whilst the castle was still in use as such. Window tracery within the keep and in one of the former wall towers is of the Decorated period - some Perpendicular work is also visible. At no point could indentifiable remains of Norman building be noted. The standing remains are considerable and generally in a good condition, they vary in height from ground level to a max of approx. 8.0m. (PastScape–ref. Field Investigators Comments–F1 FDC 08-JUL-1959)

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 ReferenceSJ537820
Latitude53.3330192565918
Longitude-2.69572997093201
Eastings353760
Northings382020
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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. 108
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 276, 451
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Lancashire and Cheshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 18-19
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 16-17
  • McNeil, Robina and Jamieson, A.J. (eds), 1987, Halton Castle: a visual treasure (North West Archaeological Trust Report 1)
  • Whimperley, A., 1986, The Barons of Halton
  • Cullen, P.W. and Hordern, R., 1986, Castles of Cheshire (Crossbow Books) p. 11-12
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 67
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 238
  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1975, The history of the King's Works Vol. 3: 1485-1660 (part 1) p. 252
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 199
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and Hubbard, Edward, 1971, Buildings of England: Cheshire (Harmondsworth) p. 232
  • 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. 667
  • Ridgway, Maurice Hill, 1958, 'Medieval Castles' in Sylvester, D. and Nulty, G. (eds), The Historical Atlas of Cheshire (Cheshire Community Council) p. 24-5
  • Somerville, R., 1953, Duchy of Lancaster Vol. 1 1265-1603 (London) p. 370
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Walker, 1910, History of Halton Castle and its Court Leet (Runcorn)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 173-5 online copy
  • Beaumont, W., 1886, The History of the Castle of Halton
  • Ormerod, G., 1882 (2edn), History of the County Palatine and city of Chester (London) Vol. 1 p. 411, 710
  • Beamont, 1873, History of the Castle of Halton (Warrington) p. 6-142 online copy
  • Ormerod, G., 1819, History of the County Palatine and city of Chester (London) Vol. 1 p. 524-5 (tenurial history) online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 20

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. 55-6
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 24 online copy

Journals

  • Nevell, Mike, 2015 Sept, 'First excavation at Halton Castle in 30 years' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 20 p. 17 (news report)
  • Richard Nevell, 2014-15, 'Castles as prisons' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 203-224
  • Nevell, Richard, 2012-13, 'Castle gatehouses in North West England' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 26 p. 258-81 online copy
  • 2005, 'Halton Castle, near Runcorn' Castle Studies Group Newsletter_Vol. 7 p. 2
  • Youngs, S.M. et al, 1988 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1987' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 32 p. 234-235 download copy
  • McNeil, R., 1986, 'Halton Castle' Liverpool University Archaeology Newsletter Vol. 2 p. 11-12 (short excav report)
  • 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
  • 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
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • 1890, Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 8 p. 168-169 online copy
  • 1888, Journal of the British Archaeological Association p. 199-201
  • Kendrick, James, 1885, 'Warrington Local Sketches' Journal of the Chester and North Wales Architectural Archaeological and Historic Society Vol. 3 p. 296-297 online copy
  • Beamont, Wm, 1855-64,'Halton Castle, Cheshire' Journal of the Chester and North Wales Architectural Archaeological and Historic Society Vol. 2 p. 1-20 online copy

Guide Books

  • anon, nd, Halton Castle factsheet (Norton Priory Museum and Gardens) online copy

Primary Sources

  • Round, J.H. (ed), 1899, Calendar of Documents Preserved in France (London: HMSO) Vol. 1 (A.D. 918-1206) p. 412 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. 138-9
  • C145/108(2) (Survey of 1328) The National Archives reference (calendared in Maxwell Lyte, H.C., 1916, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 2 p. 251 No. 1013 [online copy > https://archive.org/stream/calendarofinqu02grea#page/251/mode/1up])
  • DL3/76, No. 4 (Survey of 4 & 5 Philip and Mary) The National Archives reference
  • DL44/93 (Survey of 5 Elizabeth) The National Archives reference
  • SP14/49/82 (Survey of 1609) The National Archives reference

Other

  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 52 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 57 online copy