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Bristol Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Bristol.
In the historic county of Gloucestershire.
Modern Authority of Bristol; City of.
1974 county of Avon.
Medieval County of Gloucestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST59227315
Latitude 51.45593° Longitude -2.58836°

Bristol Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


A castle built before 1088 AD by Geoffrey, Bishop of Coutances and consisting of a ring-ditch and bank was followed by a motte which used the ring-work as an outer bailey. The motte was demolished by Robert of Gloucester (d 1147) to make way for the Keep which succeeded it and in 1173 the castle was acquired by Henry II to become one of the foremost royal castles in England; a major fortress, a political prison and administrative centre. The upper or outer ward of the castle stood on the side towards the city and contained, in addition to the Keep, the constable's house, which stood on the south side of the Keep, and the Chapel of St Martin, mentioned circa 1250, which may have stood to the north of the Keep. The inner ward was the larger of the two wards and contained the banqueting hall. The 13th century was the main period of building, and extensive records exist of repairs and maintenance but by 1486, when William of Worcester wrote of it, the buildings had fallen into decay. By Leland's time, although the keep and other towers were still standing, all tended to ruin. Refortification followed during the Civil War but the castle was later demolished at Cromwell's order and Millerd's map of 1673 shows the site completely built over (Little 1967; Leland; Ponsford; Lobel).
During the Anarchy, Bristol was the stronghold of Robert, Earl of Gloucester, and Matilda's champion. Only in 1174 did it become a royal possession, and from then onward was one of the 4 principle royal castles, ranking alongside Newcastle, Nottingham and Winchester as a fortress, prison and administrative centre (HKW). (PastScape)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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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.
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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