Greenhalgh Castle, cultivation terraces south east of the castle, and site of Greenhalgh manor house


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013815

Date first listed: 27-Aug-1935

Date of most recent amendment: 30-Jan-1996


Ordnance survey map of Greenhalgh Castle, cultivation terraces south east of the castle, and site of Greenhalgh manor house
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lancashire

District: Wyre (District Authority)

Parish: Barnacre-with-Bonds

National Grid Reference: SD 50059 45108

Reasons for Designation

A tower keep castle is a strongly fortified residence in which the keep is the principal defensive feature. The keep may be free-standing or surrounded by a defensive enclosure; they are normally square in shape, although other shapes are known. Internally they have several floors providing accommodation of various types. If the keep has an attached enclosure this will normally be defined by a defensive wall, frequently with an external ditch. Access into the enclosure was provided by a bridge across the ditch, allowing entry via a gatehouse. Additional buildings, including stabling for animals and workshops, may be found within the enclosure. Tower keep castles were built throughout the medieval period, from immediately after the Norman Conquest to the mid- 15th century, with a peak in the middle of the 12th century. A few were constructed on the sites of earlier earthwork castle types but most were new creations. They provided strongly fortified residences for the king or leading families and occur in both urban or rural situations. Tower keep castles are widely dispersed throughout England with a major concentration on the Welsh border. They are rare nationally with only 104 recorded examples. Considerable diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and defence, and to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally important.

Greenhalgh Castle is a late medieval castle which is an unusual variant of a tower keep castle. Both the form of the main keep, with its corner towers, and the absence of a defended outer enclosure are unusual. The form probably owes much to other types of castles and defended houses developing in the north at this date; these include the tower houses commonly found in the borderlands with Scotland, and quadrangular castles in which an open enclosure is surrounded by a defensive wall which has large corner towers providing domestic and other accommodation. Despite part destruction of the castle during the Civil War and some later stone robbing, Greenhalgh Castle survives reasonably well and is unencumbered by modern development. It retains upstanding medieval fabric and will also contain buried remains of the 15th century castle and the earlier medieval manor house which is known from documentary sources to have existed here. It will contribute to the study of the development of the castle in the north of England.


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of Greenhalgh Castle, an area of cultivation terraces immediately to the south east of the castle, and the site and buried remains of Greenhalgh manor house which preceded the castle. It is located on the top of a low knoll originally surrounded by a marshy swamp sometimes erroneously described as a moat. The summit of the knoll has been scarped to give a virtually square, flat top with steep slopes all round. The upstanding remains include the south west tower of what was originally a square keep with towers at each corner. The surviving tower is constructed of coursed sandstone facing stones with a rubble core and angle quoins. It measures approximately 7.5m square, stands up to a maximum height of 10m, and has walls an average of 1.6m thick. There are traces of the original entrance at the east corner. Arrow slits with splayed openings can be seen in the west and north corners and midway along the north west side. Traces of others are visible in the south west and south east sides and in the south corner. In the north east side there is a fireplace and at first floor level there are remains of windows. There are no upstanding remains of the three other corner towers, however, on all sides of the knoll's summit apart from the south west there are traces of a rubble bank up to 4m wide and 0.8m high which is interpreted as the foundation wall of the main block. On the south east slope of the knoll there are a number of well preserved agricultural terraces associated with the castle.

In the 14th and 15th centuries the manor, or estate, which had its headquarters at Greenhalgh, belonged to the Lord of Wyresdale, but it was given to Thomas Stanley, first Earl of Derby, as a thank-offering by Henry VII for his support at the battles of Bosworth (1485) and Stoke (1487). In 1490 the earl received permission to fortify his manor house by constructing the castle, a square tower with additional towers at each corner. The monument is of unusual form with elements of both tower keep and quadrangular castle, and as such it may owe much to the quadrangular castle building tradition which was common during the 15th century. It is unlikely the Earls of Derby resided at the castle, indeed custody of the castle was given to Thurstan Tyldesley and then Sir Richard Shireburne during the mid-16th century. During the Civil War the castle was held for the king by men loyal to the Earl of Derby, but was not besieged until 1645 when the garrison surrendered. Thereafter the timber was removed, the walls breached, and the castle rendered untenable.

A field boundary on the monument's south east side, a stile and the posts for an information board are all excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 27678

Legacy System: RSM


Ordnance Survey Record Card No. SD54NW 4, Ordnance Survey, Greenhalgh Castle (Remains of), (1957)
SMR No. 912, Lancs SMR, Greenhalgh Castle, (1984)

End of official listing