• Cheshire castles in context

      Ainsworth, Stewart; Gaunt, Peter; Williams, Howard; Swallow, Rachel E. (University of Chester, 2015-07)
      This thesis considers a little-examined region of medieval Britain through the concept and significance of power and place applied to the architecture and landscapes of castles. Over the last thirty-five years, castle studies have shifted in their interpretations of the defensive, offensive and aesthetic landscape contexts of medieval fortified residences and have adopted a new line of research. It is now understood generally that, apart from occasional military activity, most castles were used less for military purposes and more for administration and display as the lords’ residences. No such study has been made of castles in medieval Cheshire, to critically evaluate and apply new approaches in castle studies to the Cheshire evidence. This thesis concerns the number, location and distribution of castles raised in medieval Cheshire — which included current areas of north-east Wales and Greater Manchester — under the quasi-independent earls of Chester and their tenants, c.1070–1237. The study is primarily one of landscape history and archaeology, which together span many disciplinary boundaries. It draws upon previously un-studied or under-studied documentary and cartographic sources, as well as new interpretations of archaeological features at and around castle sites. An original research approach is thus employed to revisit and reinterpret the changing social, political and historical frameworks of fortified élite residences in medieval Cheshire. Within the context of current debates on the historic landscape, in-depth exploration situates related castle case studies within their respective spatial and temporal environs.