Radcliffe parish church lies at the junction of two streams in the Irwell valley. By contrast Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Middleton, Prestwich and Rochdale all overlook valleys below.
Bolton, Manchester and Middleton all occupy commanding positions, which would also have been good defensive positions.
In the Domesday book, Radcliffe is recorded as a royal manor (as was Salford).
The location of the churches is worthy of further study. Close to the river the church is bounded by two streams, it is not a hill-top site like Middleton or Prestwich.
Close to the church is Radcliffe Tower, all that remains of the medieval manor of Radcliffe. The Tower was excavated and surveyed by the Bury Archaeological Group. See this link