The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Bearnshaw Tower

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Bernshaw; Besyngshaw; Besingshaw

In the civil parish of Todmorden.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of Calderdale.
1974 county of West Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire West Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: SD90482583
Latitude 53.72884° Longitude -2.14565°

Bearnshaw Tower has been described as a probable Pele Tower.

There are no visible remains.


Small turreted stone tower. Collapsed about 1860, apparent as a result of digging for a legendary pot of gold. (Gibson)

Bernshaw Tower, formerly a small fortified house, is now in ruins, little else than the foundations being visible above the surface. (Harland and Wilkinson, 1873)

At the extreme north of the parish on a commanding eminence overlooking the Portsmouth valley and almost under the shadow of Eagle Cragg is a small farmhouse known by this name. Past it runs a little brook which rises in Tower Clough, and below it is Tower Wood. Its position and surroundings would suggest that here once stood a fortified house with its moat around it, and doubtless it was this which led Roby to select this spot for the scene of his legend of "The Lancashire Witches." It is scarcely necessary to say that Lady Sibell, "the proud maiden of Bernshaw Tower," was just as much a creature of his imagination as were the "spectre huntsman" and the "milk white doe" which met upon the cragg . All that is known about the Tower is that until about twenty years ago, at one end of the farmhouse, was a small turretted building, and the tradition was that under it lay buried a "chest" of gold, and in digging for this hidden treasure the building was undermined and fell down. The house now standing has undergone considerable alterations during the last fifty years, but the oldest part will not date back beyond the middle of the seventeenth century. Upon a stone built into the wall is inscribed "A . L., I.L., 1673," which refers to the Lomax family, who were then the owners. Richard Lomax of Pilsworth in the parish of Middleton, by his will, dated 18th October, 1587 left his lands to his son James (also of Pilsworth), who died 4th December, 1624, seised of twenty acres of land, and twenty acres of moor and turbary and a house in Todmorden, which he held of the King in socage; his son and heir was Richard Lomax, aged twelve years, and Margaret was his (James's) widow. In the Manor Survey of 1626 the heirs of James Lummax are reported to hold a messuage in Todmorden called Besinghan Towne (Bernshaw Tower). From the Lomaxes the property went by purchase to the Townleys of Townley, and is now in the possession of Lady Emily Gordon Lennox, second daughter of the late Colonel Charles Townley. (Fishwick)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact