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Jerbourg Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Chirburgh; Girburgh; Gyrbourg, Gerebrok; Gerbourkes; Gierebouk

In the parish of St Martin.
On the Isle of Guernsey.

Latitude 49.42674° Longitude -2.53640°

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

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a archaeological monument protected by law.


Large penisula surrounded by cliffs; a slope across its one approachable side defended by scarping and banks. There may have been other defences, including a tower. Popular refuge: built about 1328. Taken by French 1338; recovered 1340 and fortified; mentioned 1350 as destroyed, but appears to have been occupied at later dates. (King 1983)

The “Chateau” of Jerbourg was more like an Iron-Age hill-fort than a castle proper, enclosed by a defensive wall built in 1328. In the Middle Ages it had a keep of sorts, a square tower used for storage of wheat and presumably other sundries, and this may be the building marked on a map of Henry VIII’s time in the British Library. Despite the land belonging to the de Sausmarez family, however, it seems that parcels within the Chateau were allocated or claimed by individuals, who became responsible for that piece of it. In 1342 Edward III asked Thomas de Hampton 'in order to ensure the safety of our loyal subjects ... we order you to assign to each and everyone, from the richest to the poorest, areas within the said castle, depending on the rank of person and the amount of personal goods each has, and to expect them to defend and provision their own areas whenever war seems likely.' In 1381 Edward III instituted a Royal Commission on the ownership of Jerbourg; Matthew de Saumarez was allowed to keep it under certain conditions, which were those detailed in a writ from Edward II in 1330.  In 1350, however, the king seems to have given up on it and ordered St Peter Port to be fortified instead. In 1629, under yet another threat from France, it was agreed by the States that it was to be repaired at the expense of the islanders; perhaps as an afterthought to mollify disgruntled taxpayers, Thomas Andros, to whom the de Sausmarez titles had passed (they would be bought back later), had to agree that anyone could build within its walls in order to protect themselves and their family, provided his rights were not infringed. (Marquand 1901)

Jerbourg was a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the sea. In the prehistoric period earthworks had been constructed to defend the neck of the peninsula. The same technique of ramparts and ditches was used in the 14th century. The defence works protected an area of some 120 acres. There was space for flocks and herds to be driven here by the islanders. Moreover, there was a square tower, used for the storage of cereals (Derrick 1903, p. 261). Although extensive in area, Jerbourg Castle was protected by steep cliffs and natural ramparts of rock. The line of the man-made ramparts was relatively short. It was protected by a garrison of six to twelve archers/crossbowmen (de Guerin 1905, pp. 70-71). (Cox 2012)

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This record last updated on Tuesday, April 18, 2017