Castle Rushen

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

There are major building remains

NameCastle Rushen
Alternative NamesRussin; Castellum de russyn
Historic CountryMan
Modern AuthorityMan
1974 AuthorityA
Civil ParishCastletown

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)

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 ReferenceSC265674
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Copyright Jim Linwood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jim Linwood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jim Linwood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jim Linwood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jim Linwood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jim Linwood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jim Linwood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jim Linwood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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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  • Brears, Peter, 2011, 'The Administrative Role of Gatehouses in Fourteenth-Century North-Country Castles' in Airs, M. and Barnwell, P.S. (eds), The Medieval Great House (Donington: Shaun Tyas) p. 200-213
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 166
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, Castles and Old Churches of the Isle of Man (Malvern; Folly Publications) p. 10-15
  • Davey, P.J. Freke, D.J. and Higgins, D.A. (eds), 1996, Excavations in Castletown, Isle of Man 1989-1992 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press) p. 1-41, 127-54
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 549
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 305
  • Stenning, E.H., 1958, Portrait of the Isle of Man (London) p. 99-105
  • Rigby, Armitage, 1927, Castle Rushen: a historical and descriptive account (Douglas: Victoria Press) online copy
  • Kermode and Herdman, 1914, Manx Antiquities (Liverpool) p. 123-9
  • Moore, A.W., 1900, A History of the Isle of Man (London: T.Fisher Unwin) Vol. 1 p. 194-5, 198 online transcription
  • 1895, Castle Rushen: its history and legends (Birmingham: Munns and Allen)
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 335-42
  • Cumming, Rev Joseph George, 1857, The Story of Rushen Castle and Rushen abbey in the Isle of Man (London: Bell & Daldy) online copy
  • Grose, Francis, 1787, The Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 6 p. 207-14 online copy



  • Drury, P., 2012/13, Castle Rushen, Castletown, Isle of Man conservation management plan (Drury McPherson Partnership for Manx National Heritage)
  • Bates, A., 2010, Castle Rushen, Castletown, Isle of Man Archaeological Evaluation Report (Oxford Archaeology North for Manx National Heritage) online copy
  • Isle of Man Registered Building Report no. 24 online copy
  • Charles Guard (presenter), 2010, The Castles and Forts of the Isle of Man (DVD)
  • 1993, Conference booklet Scottish Vernacular Buildings Working Group online copy

Guide Books

  • Man

Primary Sources

  • Munch, P.A. (ed.) and Rev. Goss (tr.), 1874, Chronica regnum Manniae et insularum. The Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys (Manx Society 4) Vol. 1 p. 110-11 (first mention 1265; attack of 1313) online transcription [British Library scan of original manuscript >]


  • Gale, Norman and Gale, Margaret, c1970, Castle Rushen: Official Guide
  • Holmes, Norman, 1962, Castle Rushen Isle of Man Official Guide (Douglas: Gov Prop Trustees ?)
  • O'Neil, B.H.St J.,1960, Castle Rushen (Douglas)
  • Douglas, Joseph Edward, 1925 [reprints 1935; 1946; 1947; 1949], Castle Rushen (Douglas: Brown & Sons)
  • Jeffcott, John Moore, c1893, Castle Rushen (Manchester: Guardian Printing office)
  • 1880, Castle Rushen: its history and legends (Douglas: Brown & Son)