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A naturally defensible bluff at the confluence of the Rivers Irk and Irwell was the site of the manor house of the Greley family by the 13th century, and probably also of their castle, documented in 1184. Three concentric ditches encircling the promontory have been identified, two of them relating to the line of Long Millgate and anging Ditch, close to the present cathedral, and one running through the yard of Chetham's School and Library. The origins and exact course of each are open to conjecture, although it has been suggested that they may relate to the Norman castle, or possibly even the Saxon burh.

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