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Historic England Research Records

Beeston Castle

Hob Uid: 71073
Location :
Cheshire West And Chester
Cheshire West And Chester
Beeston
Grid Ref : SJ5380059220
Summary : Beeston Castle is located on a rocky crag above the Cheshire plain. The site has been occupied since prehistoric times and excavations have revealed remains spanning the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods.Beeston Castle was begun in the 1220s by Ranulf de Blundeville, the Sixth Earl of Chester, although it was not completed. It became a royal castle in 1237, and was strengthened during the reign of Edward I. After a number of centuries of neglect the castle was refortified in the 17th century and was besieged between 1644 and 1645 during the English Civil War. The castle was partly demolished after its surrender and the ruins became a popular destination as a picturesque ruin. An outer gatehouse was added in the mid to late 19th century. In the late 19th century the castle became the location for the Bunbury fair. The site includes upstanding and buried remains of Ranulph's 13th century castle as well as later medieval and post-medieval modifications. The castle remains include a sandstone-built outer gatehouse and outer curtain wall with eight projecting towers (D-shaped towers and one rectangular tower) which defended the outer ward or bailey. The gatehouse was further protected outside the wall by lengths of outer ditch. Although no archaeological remains have been found, the outer bailey would have been filled with ancillary castle buildings. Flat areas found may have been used as temporary accommodation for transitory armies or they could be associated with the later 19th century Bunbury fair. A rock-cut inner ditch surrounds two sides of the crag's summit. It is spanned by a stone ramp (originally timber) and part of this ramp still exists, leading to the gatehouse of the inner bailey. The gatehouse has a single chamber in each tower and a single chamber on the upper floor extending across the central passage. There are the remains of a three D-shaped towers on the wall of the inner bailey.
More information : (SJ 53805922) Beeston Castle (NR) (Remains of) (1)

Beeston Castle was built by Ranulf de Blunderville, sixth Earl of Chester, c.1220. It became a royal castle in 1237, and was strengthened by Edward I who had the towers raised and crenellated.

It was a ruin in 1543 (Leland), and again in 1646 (Civil War) (2).

There are two baileys; the inner on the summit of the hill and the outer on the sloping ground to the SE. The inner bailey was strongly defended on the side of the approach by a gatehouse, two wall towers, and a ditch 35ft wide by 30ft deep, cut across the promontory through natural rock. The castle appeared to have no special keep unless the large wall tower to the E of the gatehouse served that purpose (3)

Scheduled (4).

The remains of the castle are being restored. See GP's AO/64/228/8 and AO/64/290/1-2.
Published survey (25") revised. (5)

Detailed architectural account (6)

Civil War history (7)

Beeston Castle is as described in the Guide (2), except that
there are four wall towers defending the inner bailey, two to
either side of the gatehouse.
Recent excavations in the rock-cut ditch have revealed a stone-revetted causeway across the ditch, below the gatehouse, probably upon which the drawbridge abutments were erected. There is a well, cut down through the rock, within the inner bailey. MSD revised. (8)

Excavations of the outer gateway of Beeston Castle uncovered coarse pottery and a saddle quern probably of Iron Age date. Probable Medieval and post Medieval approach roads were identified. Finds stored in the castle museum. (9-10)

Excavations in the Outer Gateway (1978-81), Outer Ward (1980-81) and garage foundation (1982-) produced a broad range of pre-castle occupation evidence spanning the Neolithic, Bronze Age (bronze workers crucible), Iron Age (ramparts and settlement) and Roman (pottery, cobbled surface) periods. (11)

Definitive excavation report. (12)

Excavation archive held by NAR, Southampton. (13)

Walls, gatehouse and towers of inner bailey, built c1220 AD, altered late 13th/early 14th century. Grade I. Section of walling, gatehouse and towers of the outer bailey wall, built c1220 AD, altered late 13th/early 14th century. Grade I. The castle was ruinous by the late 16th century. It was partially repaired in 1643 by Parliamentary troops and taken by the Royalists in the same year, the castle was slighted in 1646. (14)

SJ 5381 5919. Beeston castle; medieval enclosure castle and site of late prehistoric hillfort.
The site includes upstanding and buried remains of Ranulph's 13th century castle as well as later medieval and post-medieval modifications. The castle remains include a sandstone-built outer gatehouse and outer curtain wall with eight projecting towers (D-shaped towers and one rectangular tower) which defended the outer ward or bailey. The gatehouse was further protected outside the wall by lengths of outer ditch. Although no archaeological remains have been found, the outer bailey would have been filled with ancillary castle buildings. Flat areas found may have been used as temporary accommodation for transitory armies or they could be associated with the later 19th century Bunbury fair. A rock-cut inner ditch surrounds two sides of the crag's summit. It is spanned by a stone ramp (originally timber) and part of this ramp still exists, leading to the gatehouse of the inner bailey. The gatehouse has a single chamber in each tower and a single chamber on the upper floor extending across the central passage. There are the remains of a three D-shaped towers on the wall of the inner bailey.
Scheduled RSM No 23641. (15)

Additional references. (16-17)

Listed by Cathcart King. (18)

Work on the castle began in 1225 under the Earl of Chester, but following the death of the last Earl in 1237, it was appropriated by the King. however, no serious work was undertaken until 1303-4, when three wooden towers in the inner bailey were heightened and crenellated in stone. Further expenditure was carried out in the mid 14th century, but after that, no further works were undertaken. Although ruinous in the reign of Henry VIII, it was refortified in the Civil War, and demolished in 1646. (19)

Beeston Castle is located on a rocky crag above the Cheshire plain. The site has been occupied since prehistoric times and excavations have revealed remains spanning the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods.
Beeston Castle was begun in the 1220s by Ranulf de Blundeville, the Sixth Earl of Chester, although it was not completed. It became a royal castle in 1237, and was strengthened during the reign of Edward I. After a number of centuries of neglect the castle was refortified in the 17th century and was besieged between 1644 and 1645 during the English Civil War. The castle was partly demolished after its surrender and the ruins became a popular destination as a picturesque ruin. An outer gatehouse was added in the mid to late 19th century. In the late 19th century the castle became the location for the Bunbury fair.

Please see the 2007 English Heritage Guide Book to Beeston Castle for a detailed description of the castle including its history and remains. (20)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1954
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Beeston Castle, Cheshire Anc Mon Leaflet 1962 (MOW)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Source Number : 11
Source : Cheshire archaeological bulletin
Source details : plan (P R Hough)
Page(s) : 22-30
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 8, 1982
Source Number : 12
Source : English Heritage archaeological reports
Source details : Ellis P ed 1992 Beeston Castle Cheshire
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 23
Source Number : 13
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : R4 MRB 31-OCT-1991
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 14
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of Chester, 3-Apr-1986
Page(s) : 04-May
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1016
Source Number : 15
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 11/05/1994
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 16
Source : The English Heritage visitors' handbook 1998-99
Source details :
Page(s) : 168
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 17
Source : Ordnance Survey guide to castles in Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 90
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1988
Source Number : 18
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 66
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 19
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 20
Source : Beeston Castle
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 3
Source : The castles of Great Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 116
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Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : List Ancient Monuments of England and Wales 1961 (MOW)
Page(s) : 22
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 TPW 20-NOV-64
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Journal of the Chester and North Wales Architectural Archaeological and Historic Society
Source details : 1959 plans etc (M H Ridgeway & D J Cathcart-King)
Page(s) : Jan-23
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society
Source details : 1965-6 (R N Dove)
Page(s) : 103-122
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 75-76
Source Number : 8
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 ASP 22-MAR-76
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 9
Source : Council for British Archaeology: Newsletter and calender
Source details : Jan/Feb 1980
Page(s) : 127
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 260
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 23, 1979

Monument Types:
Components and Objects:
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Findspot
Object Type : VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 55798
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 55797
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CH 1
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 23641
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 55799
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 140
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1007900
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SJ 55 NW 3
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 71090
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SJ 55 NW 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1964-11-20
End Date : 1964-11-20
Associated Activities : BEESTON CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1969-01-01
End Date : 1973-12-31
Associated Activities : BEESTON CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1975-01-01
End Date : 1985-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SJ 55 NW 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1976-03-22
End Date : 1976-03-22
Associated Activities : BEESTON CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1981-01-01
End Date : 1981-12-31
Associated Activities : BEESTON CASTLE, NEAR BUNBURY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : BEESTON CASTLE, NEAR BUNBURY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31