Wincobank Living History

Timeline Map

8000-4000 BC:
Mesolithic activity on the site, possibly a temporary camp where flint blades were manufactured.
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Bronze Age:
Possible Bronze Age burial mounds recorded in the vicinity of the hillfort in the 18th century, removed 'about the year 1795'. No associated Bronze Age artefacts recorded, though a flint knife of this period was found in Wincobank Wood in the 19th century.
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500 BC:
Probable construction date of Wincobank Hillfort, based on radiocarbon dating. Iron Age activity in the area is suggested by beehive querns (corn milling stones) found in the woods.
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AD 51:
Construction of Templeborough Roman fort, which marked the northern limit of the Roman Military Zone until the subjugation of Brigantia, to the north of the River Don, c.AD
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The Roman fort may have been built partly to neutralise the potential threat of the hillfort.
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AD 100-400:
Occupation of the hillfort is likely to have been sporadic during the Roman period, though several pieces of 2nd-century Roman ceramic and a coin of Constantius Chlorus (AD 305-306) were recovered from the hillfort and its immediate vicinity. There is currently no evidence to indicate that the hillfort was involved in the Brigantian revolts against Roman rule in the 2nd and early 3rd centuries, and the site is likely to have been reclaimed by the wood by the 4th century.
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Early medieval period:
The site was possibly part of the British kingdom of Elmet in the post-Roman period, before coming under Anglo-Saxon control in the late 6th/early 7th centuries. It was then located along the southern border of Northumbria, and the hillfort may have been reoccupied periodically during outbreaks of hostility between Northumbria and Mercia. There is currently no archaeological evidence for any rebuilding or reoccupation of the hillfort during this period.
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Wincobank recorded as 'Winckley', possibly derived from the Old English 'Wineca's ley', meaning 'Wineca's forest clearing'.
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Place-name 'Winkowe' recorded, with the earlier 'Wineca' element supplemented by the Old English or Old Norse 'lowe/haugr', both of which mean 'mound' and may relate to the summit of the hill.
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16th to 17th century:
Wincobank Wood was managed for the Earl of Shrewsbury's estate as a ‘spring’ (coppice) wood. During the 17th century, the hillfort's eastern bank and ditch were levelled when a field boundary was built along the line of the ditch.
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Farm called 'Le Wynkeabancke' first recorded in a document of this date. The farm later became Wincobank Hall.
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Late 18th century:
Wincobank Hall and its estates purchased by John Sparrow, and the hall substantially rebuilt. 1790: Cottages shown on Winco Wood Lane, to the north-east of the hillfort, on a map of the lands associated with Wincobank Hall. Their date of construction is unknown, but it has been suggested that they were 16th-century in origin, with later modifications.
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Joseph Read purchased Wincobank Hall and further land near the hillfort. Read laid out gardens and pleasure grounds, meadows and plantations of 'exceeding beauty'.
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Winco Wood Lane shown as a 'bridle path to Sheffield' on an 1837 sale plan of Wincobank Hall and its estate. The hall was purchased by Joseph Read's daughter, Mary Rawson. The plan also showed a quarry at the junction of Winco Wood Lane and Jenkin Road.
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A plan showed a coal mine shaft within the quarry at Jenkin Road.
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The Poor Law survey map showed the Winco Wood Lane cottages as a row of six properties, three of which were very small.
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Construction began on 'Wincobank Castle', a tower house built by George Parkin, a former teacher, close to the north edge of the hillfort. The house was completed in 1907.
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Grimesthorpe Colliery had been established by this date.
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Archaeological excavation at Wincobank Hillfort, directed by Elijah Howarth, curator of Sheffield Museum, from August to October.
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Final sale of timber from Wincobank Wood.
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The Duke of Norfolk presented the hillfort and 48 acres of Wincobank Wood to the people of Sheffield. A second archaeological excavation was undertaken at the hillfort by the staff of Sheffield Museum.
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The OS map of this date showed allotments in the western part of Wincobank Wood.
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An anti-aircraft gun emplacement was constructed on the south side of the hillfort, to counter potential Zeppelin air raids.
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During the Second World War, the tower at Wincobank Castle was used as an observation post. The anti-aircraft gun emplacement was also brought back into use and a searchlight was located to the south-west of the hillfort. A barrage balloon was also located along Wincobank Hill, while part of Winco Wood Lane was reinforced to allow access for military vehicles.
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Wincobank Castle was demolished in 1960. The cottages at Winco Wood Lane were subject to a compulsory purchase order in the early 1960s and had become largely derelict by 1967. They had been demolished by the time of the 1973 OS map.
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Yorkshire Television were granted permission to place a Radio Links Can on the top of Wincobank Hill, as the site's elevation made it an effective transmission location. The hill was also used for this purpose during BBC coverage of the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield.
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Archaeological watching brief conducted by Pauline Beswick during the cutting of a drainage ditch through the hillfort's rampart.
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Wincobank 'Castle'

George Parkin, a former teacher who had retired through ill health, constructed a tower house to the north of Wincobank hillfort between 1887 and 1907. 

The square tower, designed to resemble the castle keeps in the novels of Sir Walter Scott, was approximately 50 feet high (15.24m) and comprised rubble walls that were faced on the interior with brick and on the exterior with sandstone. The tower stood on bedrock, with walls that were 5 feet thick at the base, tapering to 18 inches at the top.

The tower was 14 square feet (1.3m2) at its base and 11 square feet (1m2) at the top. Parkin lived in a two-storey house that he had constructed on the eastern side of the tower. The stone used in the construction was taken mainly from a disused quarry on the hillside, although some stones were removed from the ramparts of the hillfort. 

The building was marked on the 1892 Ordnance Survey map as 'Wincobank House' but became known locally as ‘Wincobank Castle’. Following its completion, the tower provided views of the country for miles around and Parkin allowed visitors to climb to the top upon payment of 1d. 

During the Second World War, the tower was used as an anti-aircraft observation post but fell into a ruinous condition in the post-war period and was demolished in 1960. No clearly visible traces of the structure survive, although though rubble in the vicinity of the castle's site may relate to its demolition.

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  • J. Richards said

    I have found your articles about Wincobank very interesting. My father told me that when he was a child he lived for a while in Wincobank castle and that he enjoyed playing with his brothers there. He was born in 1912 so it was probably around 1920 when he lived there. I would like to read more about the history of the area.

  • lesley smith said

    my nan used to live in wincobank castle when she was younger. she often spoke about it but i never knew its name. so happy to be able to read about the castle and show my children.

  • bill launt said

    I could see the castle from my old home on the flower also went to school with some parkins in 1940

  • Andy Fisher said

    Hi, I am doing some research for the Heeley History Workshop. I transpires that the Wincobank route, had the 2nd, 3rd & 4th buses that Sheffield bought in 1913. They were Daimler single decker's & run from the tram terminus, not town. When I get the book from the Library I will fill in more information. Have your group have any photos of these buses?

  • rob palmer said

    My grandmother, gladys palmer, Maiden name was Parkin, and she often talked about her father's memories of Wincobank Castle. Any family members still around? Would be great to hear from you!

  • Joy Palmer said

    As a child, my mother Gladys nee Parkin (1911- 1992), told me a tale of her early childhood memories of visiting an uncle who lived in Wincobank Castle. It would seem that this story was in fact more than a childhood fantasy! If anyone has any information on George Parkin, who seems a fascinating character, or indeed any of his relatives I would be grateful..

  • Kath Wray said

    My grandfather helped to build Parkin Jepsons Castle.He was Nephew of Thomas Pye who built lots of the houses in both Wincobank and Shiregreen.His cousin George Edward Pye lived at the top house on Newman Rd and was an architect. My grandad always said that he (Jepson) wanted to make money like Keppels Column by letting people in to see the view.I believe he did and charged a penny a time.

  • Penny Rea said

    If you follow this link to Picture Sheffield there is photo taken from Shiregreen Lane with Wincobank Castle high on the hill in the background. There are no trees on the hill top so the whole building must have been clearly visible from all sides.;EQUALS;s19457&pos=247&action=zoom&id=21999

  • Joe said

    It's a shame the tower has gone - I bet you got a really good view!

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