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BEESTON CASTLE

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Beeston Castle is located on a rocky crag above the Cheshire plain. The site has been occupied since prehistoric times and excavations have revealed remains spanning the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods.
Beeston Castle was begun in the 1220s by Ranulf de Blundeville, the Sixth Earl of Chester, although it was not completed. It became a royal castle in 1237, and was strengthened during the reign of Edward I. After a number of centuries of neglect the castle was refortified in the 17th century and was besieged between 1644 and 1645 during the English Civil War. The castle was partly demolished after its surrender and the ruins became a popular destination as a picturesque ruin. An outer gatehouse was added in the mid to late 19th century. In the late 19th century the castle became the location for the Bunbury fair.
The site includes upstanding and buried remains of Ranulph's 13th century castle as well as later medieval and post-medieval modifications. The castle remains include a sandstone-built outer gatehouse and outer curtain wall with eight projecting towers (D-shaped towers and one rectangular tower) which defended the outer ward or bailey. The gatehouse was further protected outside the wall by lengths of outer ditch. Although no archaeological remains have been found, the outer bailey would have been filled with ancillary castle buildings. Flat areas found may have been used as temporary accommodation for transitory armies or they could be associated with the later 19th century Bunbury fair. A rock-cut inner ditch surrounds two sides of the crag's summit. It is spanned by a stone ramp (originally timber) and part of this ramp still exists, leading to the gatehouse of the inner bailey. The gatehouse has a single chamber in each tower and a single chamber on the upper floor extending across the central passage. There are the remains of a three D-shaped towers on the wall of the inner bailey.

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