Bury Archaeological Group

Est. 1953

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Bury Castle (SD 80351088)


During his visit to North West England in 1539, the Tudor scholar John Leland described Bury Castle as a ruin. Excavations in the 1970s confirmed that by the mid 16th century, with most re-usable building material removed from the site, the moat become a town dump. In the early 17th century, partial reclamation of the moat enabled rearward extensions to certain properties fronting Bolton Street and the Wylde.  Deposition of rubbish in pits and gardens, accompanied by piecemeal consolidation on the backsides, continued throughout the 17th century.

The moat became sufficiently compacted by the early 18th century to accommodate modest buildings with drains and cobbled yards. Further ground consolidation later in the century prompted more development, for example, the Bay Horse Inn behind Bolton Street, a rear extension of the Old White Bear in the Wylde close to a new large building or boundary wall to the rear of the premises. Wells sunk, provided for new tenants including a metalworker and a tallow chandler.  A passage known as Browns Gate provided access to properties behind the Wylde on the old manor house site known as Castle Yard.


Finds from archaeological excavations provided a variety of pottery reaching Bury market place from West Yorkshire, Lancashire, North Wales and Staffordshire. The anaerobic condition of 16th century contexts in the moat preserved organic matter, including numerous shoe parts.


Refs: Tyson, N. ‘Excavations at the site of Bury Castle, 1973-77’

 The Greater Manchester Archaeological Journal Vol. 2 (1986) pp   89-130