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Record Details

HER Number:00587/02
Type of record:Monument
Name:Stainborough Castle, at Stainborough Lowe, near Barnsley


An eighteenth century 'folly' castle on Stainborough Lowe, two and a half miles south-west of Barnsley

Grid Reference:SE 315 030
Map Sheet:SE30SW
Parish:STAINBOROUGH, Barnsley, South Yorkshire
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Monument Type(s):

  • CASTLE? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FOLLY (1728-30, Post Medieval to Industrial - 1720 AD to 1914 AD)

Associated Finds:

  • None
  • Protected Status:

    • Registered Park or Garden (I) 1000415: Wentworth Castle
    • Listed Building (II*) 1151069: STAINBOROUGH CASTLE

    Full Description

    <1> The site is comprised of a complex ditch and bank earthworks, upon which a 'folly' castle was built in the seventeenth century. The site is bounded on the south-west by an escarpment. The summit commands a view of the countryside for five to six miles in all directions. Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, bought Stainborough Hall in about 1708 and began building a Baroque mansion that absorbed the original hall. Extensive landscaping of the grounds was undertaken. He built the 'castle' on the summit of Stainborough Lowe. The house itself became known as Stainborough Castle then, by 1731, as Wentworth Castle. References to castle ruins, in inscriptions, could imply the remains of earlier buildings on the site.

    The actual castle mound can best be described as a typical Norman or medieval 'motte' in design with a deep ditch and strong angular sides, but a lack of dating evidence precludes any conclusions as to whether this was by design in the 1730s reconstruction or whether it was a pre-existing feature. It is assumed that in preparing the site in the 1730s, the hilltop was roughly levelled. In the absence of detailed documentary records of the extent to which the Lowe headland was landscaped in the 1730s to accommodate the mock castle, any conclusions must be viewed to be tentative.
    The underlying ditch and bank must be considered to be indicative of an Iron Age occupation of the site. The presence of flint material suggests the presence of people during the stone-age.

    <2> The earthworks consist of a roughly circular enclosure, 50m in diameter. The Gothic gate-house, possibly replacing an earlier structure performing the same role, was built in the eighteenth century. A Court Roll of 1613 refers to castle ruins.

    <3> Between February and April 2006 a topographical survey of Stainborough Castle was undertaken by Archaeological Services WYAS. Their work suggests that the extensive earthwork terraces on which Stainborough Castle stands pre-date its construction; they may be remnants of an Iron Age hillfort or of medieval fortification.

    <4> The ruined castle is a folly built on the estate of Wenworth Castle by the 1st Earl of Stafford before 1739 and probably by 1730. [Further Information].

    <5> Also see 'Gardens of Britain: South Yorkshire and Humberside' (1978) by K. Lemmon.

    <1> Ashurst, D., 1991, Stainborough Lowe., pp33-38 (Article in serial). SSY284.

    <2> Royal Archaeological Institute, 1844 - 2000, Archaeological Journal, Archaeological Journal, 137 (1980) pp448 (Article in serial). SSY265.

    <3> ASWYAS, 2006, Stainborough Castle, Wentworth Castle, Barnsley: Archaeological Topographical Survey (Grey Literature Report). SSY1773.

    <4> John Harris, 1979, The Artist and the Country House: A History of the Country House and Garden View Painting in Britain 1540-1870 (Bibliographic reference). SSY996.

    <5> K. Lemmon, 1978, Gardens of Britain: South Yorkshire and Humberside (Bibliographic reference). SSY993.

    Sources and further reading

    <1>SSY284 - Article in serial: Ashurst, D.. 1991. Stainborough Lowe.. pp33-38.
    <2>SSY265 - Article in serial: Royal Archaeological Institute. 1844 - 2000. Archaeological Journal. Archaeological Journal, 137 (1980) pp448.
    <3>SSY1773 - Grey Literature Report: ASWYAS. 2006. Stainborough Castle, Wentworth Castle, Barnsley: Archaeological Topographical Survey. Pollington, M..
    <4>SSY996 - Bibliographic reference: John Harris. 1979. The Artist and the Country House: A History of the Country House and Garden View Painting in Britain 1540-1870.
    <5>SSY993 - Bibliographic reference: K. Lemmon. 1978. Gardens of Britain: South Yorkshire and Humberside.

    Related records

    02944/01Part of: Gardens and parkland at Wentworth Castle / Stainborough Park (Monument)