« PreviousContinue »
By JOHN W. WALKER, F.S.A.
THE ruins of the castle which are situated at Sandal Magna, a village some two miles south-east of Wakefield cathedral on the turnpike road between Wakefield and Barnsley, are of great antiquarian and historical interest; but so little of them remains above ground, that, since the demolition of the castle in and after 1646, they have attracted little attention, and no full account of their history has ever been published. The name of the village probably arose from the moated dwelling on the artificial mound, and was derived from two old English words, Sond, sandy, and aula, a hall or dwelling-house; however this may be, the fortified earthworks date from a very remote period.
The Castle hill is the highest point of a long slope rising in a south-easterly direction and about a quarter of a mile from the south bank of the river Calder. On every side the country around is open to the north lies the city of Wakefield; to the north-west on rising ground the wooded parks of Thornes and Lupset; further west the manufacturing towns of Ossett and Horbury; to the south-west Bullcliffe woods and the dark line of Woolley Edge; southward is Woolley moor and Chevet park; eastwards Walton with its lake-encircled hall, the home of the Watertons for more than four hundred years; Nostell, bearing the name of the Augustinian priory which once held sway there; beyond these Pontefract and its ruined castle, whose history is to some extent bound up with that of Sandal; while nearer home the Heath with its fine Elizabethan hall completes the circle.
When the English invaders of Britain pushed their way inland into the district thenceforth to be known as Deira, and afterwards Yorkshire, the north-country Britons made a desperate resistance, but were defeated and driven back into the dense virgin forest-land, known as Elmet, which included the greater part of the valleys of the Aire, the