List Of Castles In Greater Manchester
There are nine castles in Greater Manchester, a metropolitan county in North West England. They consist of four motte-and-baileys, three fortified manor houses, a ringwork, and a possible shell keep. A motte-and-bailey castle has two elements, the motte is an artificial conical mound with a wooden stockade and stronghold on top, usually a stone keep or tower. A bailey is a defended enclosure below the motte, surrounded by a ditch. Motte-and-bailey castles were the most common type of castle in England following the Norman Conquest. Ringworks are similar to motte-and-baileys although lack the characteristic motte; they are an uncommon form of fortification – though contemporary with motte-and-baileys – a ringwork may have been built rather than a motte-and-bailey because the soil was too thin to provide a proper motte. A shell keep was a motte with a stone wall rather than a wooden stockade on top; there would have been no tower within the walls. Four of Greater Manchester's castles are Scheduled Ancient Monuments: Buckton, Bury, Radcliffe Tower, and Watch Hill. A Scheduled Ancient Monument is a "nationally important" archaeological site or historic building, given protection against unauthorised change.
The purpose of a castle was not simply militaristic, but was also considered to be a stamp of authority over the population of an area and a status symbol. Some would have acted as centres of trade and administration for a manor. The earliest castles in Greater Manchester are Dunham and Watch Hill in Trafford, Ullerwood in Manchester, and Stockport Castle in Stockport. They were first recorded in 1173 as belonging to barons who had rebelled against Henry II, and at least three were motte-and-bailey castles, probably because of the speed and ease with which they could be erected. Hamon de Massey, who owned the Trafford castles and Ullerwood, and Geoffrey de Constentyn, who owned Stockport Castle, were two of the three rebels from Cheshire; the other was the Earl of Chester, the owner of Chester Castle. Castles continued to be built in the area, although the last to be built in Greater Manchester were two fortified manor houses near Bury, built more for comfort than as utilitarian military structures. Bury Castle and Radcliffe Tower followed the national trend in the 13th century; they would most likely have acted as the centre of the manor they served.
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