HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

Halton Castle

Hob Uid: 71756
Location :
Halton
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : SJ5376082020
Summary : 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 the 11th to the 13th centuries, the ownership passed to the Lacy family, the Lords of Pontefract, who became Dukes of Lancaster in 1311. In the 15th century 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 Cromwell's 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 the 13th century. The curtain wall only survives as foundations. The stone tower dates from the 13th century and measures 12 metres 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.
More information : [SJ 53768202] Halton Castle [G.T.] (Remains of) (1)

Halton Castle was not mentioned in the Domesday Survey but it was probably built shortly afterwards. '...[it] was appointed by Queen Elizabeth (in 1579) to be a prison for ... detaining recusants'... (2)

The Duke of Lancaster who succeeded to the 'Barony of Halton' in 1345'... claimed the right to have his castle of HALTON crenellated and embattled, together with a castle ward and a prison ......"... John of Gaunt, as 14th baron... seems to have built here..." In 1644, during the Civil War it was taken by the Parliamentary Forces "[and] shortly afterwards the castle was dismantled and turned to a ruin." (3)

Examination of the remains of Halton Castle indicated (a) That some masonry had formed part of a Norman building. (b) evidence of C14th rebuilding and re-facing. (c) that the bulk of the remains were of C15th date. (4)

[At 'A' SJ 53788204] Late Celtic coin. (5)(5a)

"Mr. C. Roach Smith informs me that he has seen a MS note of a coin of this type having been found at Houghton [sic] Castle, Runcorn, Cheshire, in 1795. I have no note of any other ancient British coins having been found in that county. "Evans type XVII: 1 [Allen: Belgic Dynastics, Arch. XC (1944) 41] A stater of the Brigancies, insr. 1OS/DVMNOCOVEROS.
[There is no "Houghton" Castle near Runcorn: Evans does in fact mention a coin, of type XIII: II, AE inscr
- A -, as found" in Cheshire" (p.574)] (6)

Scheduled as Ancient Monument. Halton Castle. (7)

Mainly historical. (8)

Refers to Proc L & C H S Sects III 1850-1 (9)

Notes (10)

Mainly historical (11)

Mention of a survey temp. Cromwell (8-12) (12)

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 identifiable remains of Norman building be noted (Authority 4 refers) 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. Please see GPS AO/59/30/4 - 8, AO/59/230/2 - 7
Ref. authorities 5 and 6. The location of the Brigantian coin has not been ascertained. A notice board indicates the castle to be the property of the Duchy of Lancaster.
AM survey completed. (13)

As described in 13. Published 1/1250 survey 1962-3 checked and found correct. (14)

Ruinous castle built c.1070. A few high standing walls contain the remains of windows with tracery suggesting a late medieval alteration. High standing remains within the south east area of the walls were built about 1800 to make the castle an eye-catcher from Norton Priory. Scheduled. Listed Grade I. (15-16)

A programme of excavation, survey and documentary research carried out between 1986 and 1987. The earliest recognisable archaeological occupation probably dates to the 12th century, when the bedrock was scraped to form a circular plug, possibly for a stone shell heap, and a massive ditch was backfilled to accommodate a rectangular tower at its north end, whose base was constructed of ashlar blocks with pilaster buttresses. A number of cellared buildings were built around a courtyard in the inner bailey curtain. 15th century refurbishments included the addition of twin polygonal gate towers (since demolished). The rectangular tower became the solar for the baron's chambers and a garderobe was built into the renovated courtyard buildings. (17)

Full report. (18)

Additional references. (19-21)

Listed by Cathcart King and Colvin. During the Tudor period the castle was largely maintained only to store the Duchy's archives, and court rolls, although the kitchen tower was rebuilt from 1532-6. However, it still retained some military value because it changed hands twice during the Civil War. In 1643, the chapel, which stood without the wall, was entirely destroyed by the besieging forces of Sir William Brereton. (22-23)

The monument is visible as an extant structure on air photographs examined as part of the North West Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment. (24)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1905 38
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : A History of Cheshire [series]
Source details :
Page(s) : 710
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1 (1982)
Source Number : 10
Source : Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 168-169
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 8 (1890)
Source Number : 11
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Beaumont W. 1873. History of the Castle of Halton
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Hanshall JH. 1817. History of the Palatine County of Cheshire
Page(s) : 414-415
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 FDC 08-JUL-1959
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 JHW 29-JAN-1964
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 15
Source : List of ancient monuments in England: Volume 1, Northern England; Volume 2, Southern England; Volume 3, East Anglia and the Midlands
Source details :
Page(s) : 21
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 3
Source Number : 16
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Halton October 1983
Page(s) : 9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 36
Source Number : 17
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 234-235
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 32 (1988)
Source Number : 18
Source : Halton Castle : 'a visual treasure'
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 19
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 22-Jul-97
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Castles of England, Scotland and Wales
Source details :
Page(s) : 173-175
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : II (1897)
Source Number : 20
Source : Halton Castle reconsidered
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 21
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 67
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 22
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 667
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 23
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 3 : 1485-1660 (part 1)
Source details :
Page(s) : 252
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 24
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/622 4051 10-AUG-1945
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Journal of the British Archaeological Association
Source details :
Page(s) : 199-201
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1888
Source Number : 5
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : Correspondents Annotated 6" Sheet (G Webster 1950)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5a
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Shone. Prehistoric Cheshire
Page(s) : 85
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Evans J. 1890. Ancient Britain Coins (Supplement)
Page(s) : 590
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ministry of Works. 1957. List of Ancient Monuments in England and Wales
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Journal of the Chester and North Wales Architectural Archaeological and Historic Society
Source details :
Page(s) : Jan-20
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2 (1864)
Source Number : 9
Source : Journal of the Chester and North Wales Architectural Archaeological and Historic Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 296-297
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1885

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Findspot
Evidence : Find
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built circa 1070
Monument End Date : 1080
Monument Start Date : 1060
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : C13 (By circa 1250)
Monument End Date : 1260
Monument Start Date : 1200
Monument Type : Shell Keep, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Ruined Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built C15
Monument End Date : 1499
Monument Start Date : 1400
Monument Type : Gatehouse
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Used as a prison in 1579
Monument End Date : 1579
Monument Start Date : 1579
Monument Type : Prison
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Demolished 1643
Monument End Date : 1643
Monument Start Date : 1643
Monument Type : Domestic Chapel
Evidence : Demolished Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Partly demolished in 1644
Monument End Date : 1644
Monument Start Date : 1644
Monument Type : Shell Keep
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Built in 1738
Monument End Date : 1738
Monument Start Date : 1738
Monument Type : Court House, Prison, Lock Up
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Construcetd circa 1800
Monument End Date : 1810
Monument Start Date : 1790
Monument Type : Folly
Evidence : Structure

Components and Objects:
Period : Iron Age
Component Monument Type : Findspot
Object Type : COIN
Object Material :

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CH 2
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 27611
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 55981
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cheshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 27611
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SJ 58 SW 5
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SJ 58 SW 5
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1959-07-08
End Date : 1959-07-08
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SJ 58 SW 5
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1964-01-29
End Date : 1964-01-29
Associated Activities : Primary, HALTON CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1986-01-01
End Date : 1987-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, HALTON CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, HALTON CASTLE (NEW FENCING)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2006-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE:NORTH WEST COAST NMP RAPID COASTAL ZONE ASSESSMENT SURVEY
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2007-11-26
End Date : 2009-05-22
Associated Activities : Primary, HALTON CASTLE (WATER MAIN)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT HALTON CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2015-01-01
End Date : 2016-12-31