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Halton Castle is one of only two surviving Norman castles in Cheshire and is linked with the story of nearby Norton Priory. There are a number of fascinating features in and around the castle, including the sally port, garderobe and tower. You can find out more about the Castle by downloading this factsheet!
Halton Castle is open at weekends until the end of October and for special events, tours and school visits. For details of upcoming events, have a look at What’s On or contact Norton Priory.
Physical access to the site is limited but some parts are accessible. Please call in advance for further information.
The Castle Pub, situated in the Georgian Courthouse at the entrance, is a welcoming place to stop for refreshments!
The 2015 community excavation
It’s no secret that something big happened at Halton Castle in the summer of 2015. With the help of over 100 volunteers, 650 school children and archaeologists from Salford University’s Centre for Applied Archaeology, two large trenches were excavated in the lower bailey over a 4-week period. A wonderful array of artefacts and archaeology were retrieved, including everything you would expect such as bits of Victorian rubbish dumping and clay pipes, through to nice sherds of medieval green-glaze pottery and even some civil war musket balls. What we really didn’t anticipate however, was human remains just inside the outer wall.
These two skeletons from Halton Castle’s fairly well documented past have thrown something of a curveball at its established history. Although the site has hosted a court and prison for the best part of a thousand years, there is no document currently known that lists any burials. Typically, burials within castles are rare and there was little evidence to suggest a their possible age. Samples have been taken and we are waiting for the results of radiocarbon dating which may shed some light on this mystery.
The castle sits on a natural sandstone outcrop exploited by the builders. The sandstone was key to the castle’s original construction, making up part of the curtain walls and, as our 2015 excavations have shown, was also used to create the foundation post holes for what looks to be a particularly tall wooden structure. This series of post holes were revealed not too far from the human skeletons in Trench 2 at the most northerly point of the outer bailey. Speculation is rife that this may have been a chapel, but we will only know for certain as our research efforts grow.
Perhaps one of the most palpable pieces of archaeology uncovered this year was what looks to be a substantial Medieval wall abutting the bedrock to the south and running away into the trench edge, out toward the curtain wall at an oblique angle. This wall was impressive to say the least, despite the fact only a small portion of it was visible in the trench. Associated with the wall were several large post holes.
More modern finds also featured. Evidence of the use of the castle during WWII appeared in the form of coins, shell casings, and even the remains of a mug (no doubt heavily used by the defensive outpost set up to defend the Mersey from German aircraft).
Finally, a big thank you to all of the volunteers involved and to the funders, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Area Forum! Look out for the results of the post-excavation analyses, here, on facebook and on twitter.
The Castle is less than 30 minutes by car from Chester, Liverpool and Manchester.
From the M56, Junction 11 or 12, join the circular expressway system, following the signs for "Northwich, Chester M56".
Then follow the signs for "Halton Village and The Brow" following the Halton Castle brown signs.
Exit at the Halton Brow junction and head up the hill towards Halton Village.
Drive along the Main Street and turn left into Castle Road (opposite Trinity Methodist Church).
By Public Transport
Please telephone Halton Borough Council on 0151 471 7384 for public transport information.