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Brough Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Burc; Burg; Burgo; Burgh under Staynesmore;

In the civil parish of Brough.
In the historic county of Westmorland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Westmorland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY79151410
Latitude 54.52179° Longitude -2.32355°

Brough Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


About AD 1100 a stone castle was built on the northern part of a Roman fort (see NY 71 SE 77). It was destroyed by the Scots in 1174 and rebuilt towards the end of the century. Robert, the first of the northern Cliffords, built the round tower about 1300 and his grandson, Roger, built the main block containing the hall about 50 years later. This was destroyed by an accidental fire in 1521, after which the castle lay derelict till it was restored in a quasi-medieval style in 1659-62 by Lady Anne Clifford, the last of her line. After her death in 1676, Brough was gradually run down and eventually its walls were robbed for building works (Charlton, 1986). Surface indications, backed by an excavation of 1954, make it clear that the Normans recut the ditch of a Roman fort to create a moat, and that material from the recutting was heaped over the Roman rampart so that the part of the fort not occupied by the castle could by used as an outer bailey. There are two further earthworks on the hill, the interpretation of which is less clear: (a) a length of rampart of Roman character with a ditch to the west of it, running parallel to the west wall of the fort, barely 100 yards west of it; and (b) a rampart and ditch which seems to have cut the neck of the land, barring access to the fort or to the castle from the east (Birley, 1958). Earthworks and castle remains are well preserved, and are open to the public. The outer works to the east and west of the Roman fort are probably contemporary with the castle defences. The moat on the south, east and west sides is in good condition, up to 7.6m deep internally and slightly less externally; in the north the inner side of the moat attains a height of over 8m, but much of the outer scarp is destroyed in the erosion of the river cliff on this side. There is some evidence that the courtyard of the castle extended further to the east; here there is a triangular 'forecourt', isolated from the present courtyard by the construction of the east curtain and moat, probably in the early 14th century. To the south of the moated castle, the defences of the Roman fort have been significantly enhanced in the medieval period to create an outer 'bailey'. The two linear bank-and-ditch earthworks, crossing the ridge to the east and west of the castle, are of a size and form to be considered as defensive and are probably contemporary with the occupation of the castle. There is another bank and ditch across the ridge west of, and probably contemporary with the west example, but it is of more slight appearance (Keith Blood, 1996). (PastScape)

Brough Castle, ruins and earthworks, stands within the N. part of the Roman station, the earthworks of which, deepened and altered, formed part of its defences. The walls are of local rubble with sandstone dressings and ashlar. At the W. end of the enclosure remains have been discovered of a tower of herring-bone masonry apparently at a slight angle with the existing keep. These remains were found in 1925 in sinking shafts within and without the existing keep, and the points on the inner and outer faces then uncovered seem to indicate a rectangular structure with walls 15–16 ft. thick. A layer of black earth intervened between these foundations and those of the Roman building below them. The date of this structure must remain uncertain, but the use of herringbone work indicates a date not much later than 1100. The N. curtain-wall incorporates some herring-bone masonry no doubt of the same period, and the line of the existing curtains towards the W. indicates that they were laid out when the earlier keep was still standing. Other parts of the existing curtain may also belong to this period though they show no herring-bone work. The existing Keep dates probably from the last quarter of the 12th century, after the taking of the castle by William the Lion in 1174. Repairs are mentioned in the Pipe Rolls of 1199–1201. The round S.E. tower is probably an early 13th-century addition, and at the same period a hall seems to have been built against the E. curtain; the foundation of its W. wall has been found under the courtyard; the Gatehouse was perhaps built about the same time. Parts of the curtain appear to be also of 13th-century date. The S.E. range was built in the 14th century, and probably in the 15th century the gatehouse was reconditioned and a range added in front of the S.E. range. The castle fell into ruin after a fire of 1521 and was repaired by Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Pembroke, in 1660–2. At this date the S.E. tower and the S.W. angle of the keep were largely re-built, the kitchens added against the N. wall, the stables against the S. wall and the range against the earlier S.E. range largely re-built; the staircase to the great hall was also re-built. After the death of the countess the castle fell rapidly into decay; materials were removed from it in 1695 and c. 1763; in 1792 the S.E. angle of the keep fell. The S.W. angle of the keep fell in recent years. The castle is now in the charge of H.M. Office of Works.
The castle is an interesting example of one of the smaller border fortresses, and retains much of its 12th-century keep.
The Keep (97 ft. by 81 ft. externally), called the Roman Tower in the 17th century, is a rectangular structure (Plate 83) with clasping angle buttresses. It is of three stages, the lowest of c. 1170 and the other two of slightly later date. The N. wall stands over a fragment of a structure probably part of the earlier keep; the wall above it has been refaced; this wall has a loop-light divided internally by a wedge-shaped block of masonry perhaps inserted in the 17th century to take the end of a partition; farther E. is a round-headed doorway, formerly giving access to a staircase in the thickness of the N. wall, but now broken through to the outside. Against the E. wall are remains of the external staircase to the keep-entrance at the first-floor level. The S. wall retains the jambs of an inserted 17th-century fireplace, and in the W. wall are remains of a 17th-century window. The second stage has in the N. and S. walls original windows altered externally in the 17th century and having square heads; the mullion of the N. window has gone. In the E. wall there are little or no traces of the main doorway, which is represented by a gap in the wall. In the W. wall is a 17th-century window with remains of the original window to the N. of it. The third stage is approached by a staircase in the E. wall; in this wall are traces of a window; in the N. wall is a partly original window of two round-headed lights in a square outer order. The window in the S. wall is perhaps also original; it is of two square-headed lights with semi-circular outer orders or arches springing in the middle from a pier with attached shafts and a plain capital. There are remains of an original window in the W. wall. The top stage was originally occupied by the gabled roof of the tower which ran E. and W. with the ridge just below the parapet; the marks of this roof remain on the E. and W. walls. The stage was later formed into a fourth storey with a flat roof; there are remains of windows in both the E. and W. walls. The S.W. angle of the keep, re-built in the 17th century, has almost completely fallen; the S.E. angle has been mostly reconstructed with the old materials and there is a broad gap in the adjoining E. wall, from top to bottom. Remains survive of three of the small angle-turrets.
The Curtain-wall between the keep and the gatehouse survives in part and against it on the inside was a range of building probably the stables built by Lady Anne Clifford in 1662; the walls are standing up to about 2 ft. high. The Gatehouse is standing in part some 35 ft. high and was of three storeys. It is a 13th-century structure with a pair of 15th-century buttresses on the outward face brought to a V-shaped end. Both the outer and inner arches of the gatehouse have been destroyed, but the W. springing of the inner arch remains, with the springing of three ribs of a barrel-vault. The E. wall encloses a staircase which apparently superseded an earlier staircase, which was filled in when the later stairs were built. There is a 16th or 17th-century fireplace in the W. wall of the top floor. The abutments of the former drawbridge over the moat have been found but are not now visible. The curtain-wall, E. of the gatehouse, forms part of the 14th-century S.E. range which contained the great hall and a range of cellars beneath it. The three cellars had barrel-vaults of which only that over the W. chamber remains complete; the two western chambers have each a garde-robe in the curtain wall and an angle-fireplace of 17th-century date; the E. chamber has a loop in the S. wall and a wall-staircase entered by a doorway in the N. wall; the adjoining 14th-century doorway retains the shouldered corbels of its former lintel. The E. wall of this chamber is presumably earlier than the rest of the range as it retains parts of a plinth on the W. face. The Great Hall above this range of cellars retains only its S. wall with two 14th-century windows each of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the mullions and parts of the tracery are missing; near the E. end of the wall is a single-light square-headed window and remains of a garderobe. Above the hall was a third storey which retains the openings of two windows; Buck's view shows these to have been of two foiled and transomed lights in square heads; at the E. end of the wall are remains of a garde-robe over the one in the floor below. The S.E. Tower or Clifford's Tower (Plate 84) is of semi-circular form with a three-stage plinth. It is perhaps of the 13th century largely reconstructed by the Countess Anne. The ground stage is entered by a doorway altered in the 17th century; there is an original loop towards the S.W., but the three other windows are all of the 17th century, formerly of two lights with square heads and moulded labels; all the mullions are missing and the head of the middle window with the whole of the walling above it. On the N. side are remains of a fireplace. The second and third stages each retain a 17th-century window similar to those below and the second stage has remains of an original loop towards the S.W., destroyed by a 17th-century window, and traces of a second loop towards the N.E. The triangular room at the back of this tower has a loop-light in the S. wall. The room against the E. curtain to the N. has a 13th-century W. wall and remains of a fireplace in the E. wall; the N. wall is probably of the 15th century and forms part of the range restored by the Countess Anne on the inner face of the S.E. or hall-block. This range has remains of a plinth probably of the 15th century; it is standing to no great height and the openings are much ruined; in the third chamber from the W. is the lower part of the 17th-century staircase leading up to the hall. Part of the E. curtain, adjoining the S.E. tower, stands to a considerable height and is much reddened as though by the action of fire. The N. curtain stands from 8–10 ft. high, but has been stripped of much of its external facing. In the core of the eastern part is a considerable stretch of masonry set herring-bone fashion; this is probably of earlier date than the rest of the walling, and if so must have been ruined before the later facing was added. The various projections for buttresses and garde-robes are sufficiently indicated on the plan. The curtain N.W. of the keep retains remains of a staircase. The Kitchen, bake and brew houses, built by the Countess Anne against the N. curtain, now stand little above the foundations. The kitchen on the E. had a large fireplace in the E. wall and a fireplace or furnace in the W. wall with an oven at the back. The Courtyard is unevenly paved with rough sandstone, set out in large squares and rectangles bounded by straight bands of stone.
The Earthworks are an adaptation of the defences of the Roman station (q.v.), probably deepened and widened. The actual castle has been further defended by a ditch cut across the enclosure immediately S. of the S. wall and having an irregular outer bank. To the E. of the castle is a roughly triangular enclosure with a ditch on the E. and S. and a square sinking in the middle. To the W. of the castle are two enclosures formed by banks and ditches carried across the crest of the spur on which the castle stands. (RCHME 1936)

Built on the site of a Roman Fort (Verterae, the outlines of which are still just visible), around 1090. In 1136 it was seized by the Scots. Held by the Scots until 1157 when retaken by the English. The Scots almost destroyed the Castle in 1174 but between 1179 and 1190 much needed restoration work carried out to improve defences. There are two main buildings separated by a cobbled courtyard; a broken square keep of four storeys, which dates from the late C12, and a residential building that incorporates a large round tower in one corner known as 'Clifford's Tower' of about 1300.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:28

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