Bury Archaeological Group

Est. 1953

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Radcliffe Tower (SD 79600750)

Radcliffe Tower stands 140m west-south-west of Radcliffe parish church, at a height of 68m above OD. It occupies the first terrace above a floodplain, in a loop of the river Irwell, below its confluence with the river Roch.

In 1403, James de Radcliffe received a licence to rebuild his manor house “…with walls of stone and lime, to enclose anew and within those walls erect a hall and towers…”

Excavations at the Tower in 1979-80 produced little dating evidence, but did indicate two main medieval building phases.

Phase 1

At approximately 25m west of the existing tower, a flat-based ditch measuring 7m wide by 1.5m deep appeared to be running east to west. The ditch contained primary organic silt 0.45m deep, covered by a fill of clayey loam 0.8m deep, under a spread of silt with charcoal and burnt clay. The whole sealed by a consolidation of sandstone scaplings 0.25m thick.

Phase 2

Three metres north west of the above ditch, remains of a stone wall foundation 1.44m wide, ran west-south-west behind a shallow ditch 7m wide by 1m deep.

Only post-medieval ceramics were found in the phase 2 ditch, indicating that either the features were not medieval, or the ditch had been cleaned at a later date.

Fragments of a sandstone consolidation surface found within the courtyard presumably dated from the early 15th century.


Refs:  Hampson, C. P. ‘The Book of the Radcliffes’ (1940)


 Tyson, N. ‘Excavations at Radcliffe Tower 1979-80’. The  Greater Manchester Archaeological Journal Vol. 1 (1985)

 pp. 39-53.