Brough Castle

Brough Castle of Cumbria, England

Brough Castle is located near the village of Brough in Cumbria, England

Brough Castle was built in the 1090's on part of the remains of an earlier Roman fort. It was one of the first stone castles to be built in Britain, and some of the walls show patterns typical of Norman masonry.

In 1174, Brough Castle was attacked by the Scottish King, William the Lion, and left in a ruinous state after he forced a surrender of its defending knights by setting fire to the castle. In the 1180's, the castle was rebuilt and a new four-storied "Keep" was built on the site of the previously destroyed one. In 1521, the castle experienced a major fire. It was restored again in the 1600's, and then fell apart after the 1700s when its stones were used to make newer buildings in nearby areas.

For additional information about Brough Castle, read the "Written Histories" that appear after the following pictures.

Written Histories about Brough Castle

The history of Brough Castle is described in Wikipedia

Quoted from Castle Explorer:

Brough Castle was built in the 1090's in one corner of the remains of a Roman fort. It was one of the first stone castles to be built in Britain, and some of the walls show the herringbone pattern typical of Norman masonry. In 1174, Brough was attacked by the Scottish King, William the Lion, and left in a ruinous state after he forced a surrender by setting fire to the castle. In the 1180's the castle was rebuilt by Theobald de Valoignes who constructed a new four-storied keep on the site of the previously destroyed one.

Along with several other castles in the area, Brough passed to the Clifford family. In the early 14th Century, Robert Clifford [1333-1390] began to enlarge and improve the castle. The round tower, known as Clifford's Tower, dates from this period. Successive generations of the family continued to improve the castle until abandoning it in 1521 after a major fire. It lay empty for 140 years but was rescued in 1659 by Lady Anne Clifford who restored Brough and the other Clifford castles. However, following Lady Anne's death, her successors, the Earls of Thanet, undid most of her good work by demolishing much of the castle to provide stone for the construction of a new house at Applyby Castle.

Quoted from English Heritage:

Starkly impressive Brough Castle stands on a ridge commanding strategic Stainmore Pass, on the site of a Roman fort. Frequently the target of Scots raids, its towering keep dates from c.1200, and more comfortable living quarters were later added by the Clifford family, only to be accidentally burnt following a "great Christmas" part in 1521. Like so many other castles hereabouts, Brough was restored in the 17th century by the Lady Anne Clifford, traces of whose additions can still be seen.

St. Michael's Parish Church, in pretty Church Brough near the castle, displays an exhibition about the region. This living church is open 10am-4pm daily (not English Heritage).

Quoted from English Heritage:

Brougham Castle and Brough Castle in Cumbria have a similar history. Both were built on the site of Roman forts, whose earthworks are still visible today. Brougham was constructed in a strategic position by the crossing of the River Eamont and Brough was built to safeguard routes from the North. The English Heritage guidebook to Brougham and Brough Castles is the first to link the two sites, and includes a fascinating history of the castles and their inhabitants, together with a guided tour of both sites.

Quoted from Visit Cumbria:

The oldest parts of Brough Castle date from about 1100, when what is now North West England had just been annexed by William Rufus from the Scottish Kingdom. In 1203, King John gave Brough, along with Appleby and the Lordship of Westmorland, to Robert de Vieupoint, the builder of Brougham. By 1254, [Brough] castle was neglected.

Brough, like Brougham Castle, passed to the Cliffords in 1268. Robert Clifford carried out work here as he did at Brougham, building a semicircular tower, now known as Clifford's Tower, as a residence for himself. When members of the Clifford family came to Westmorland, they usually stayed at Brough Castle. In 1521 fire destroyed much of the castle, and it was not occupied again until Lady Anne Clifford inherited it in 1643, when she undertook restoration work on all the castles she inherited.

You can walk through the gatehouse and explore the ruins of the castle. Information panels are available to explain the layout of the site.

The castle is in the care of English Heritage. A guide book is available from Brougham Castle shop, which explains the history of both castles [Brough Castle and Brougham Castle], and includes plans and photographs of both.

Quoted from A Tour in Westmoreland, by Sir Clement Jones, 1948:

On her arrival in the north, [Lady] Anne [Clifford] started at once to rebuild or repair six of her ancient castles: Appleby, Brougham, Brough and Pendragon in Westmorland; Skipton Castle and the tower of Barden in Yorkshire....

In writing about the building activities of Anne Clifford, some mention must be made of her steward, Gabriel Vincent. He died in 1665 in Brough Castle, and his tombstone may be seen to-day in Brough Church. It is a flat stone on the floor, between the pulpit and the front pew, partly covered by an ugly but no doubt necessary radiator. The inscription on it records that it is in memory of "Gabriel Vincent, Steward to the Right Hon: Anne Clifford, Countess Dowager of Pembroke, Dorset and Montgomery, Chief Director of all her buildings in the North, who died in the Roman Tower of Brough Castle like a good Christian 12 Feb. 1665, looking for the Second Coming of Our Saviour."

[Lady] Anne [Clifford] was devoted to the Church and helped many clergy with her bounty; she was well versed in the Scriptures which she was able to quote on occasion. She constantly read the Psalms appointed for the day and had three or four chapters of the Bible read to her daily by some of her women. She was a careful student of history and had a good library of well-chosen books. She kept her accounts most exactly. Besides which, Sedgwick informs us, she kept, in a large folio paper book, a diary wherein she had entered the occurrences of each day and the names of all strangers that came to her house whether on visits or on business.

Quoted from U Find Us:

Dating from 1090, Brough Castle was built upon the ruins of a Roman fort. Constructed by William Rufus, it stood as defense to the English lands until 1136, when it was taken by the Scots until 1157. Around 1174, Brough Castle was again attacked by the Scots under William the Lion. It was surrendered and largely destroyed. Restoration work was carried out between 1179 and 1190, but it wasn't until 1203 that any major restoration occurred, under the guidance of Robert de Vipont. In its following history, Brough Castle underwent further repairs and conversely also fell into various states of disrepair, one caused by fire, until 1920. Brough Castle was given to the Ministry of Works on the brink of collapse, and is now looked after by English Heritage.

Quoted from Norman Stone Castles: The British Isles, 1066-1216 (by Christopher Gravett):

Interesting details of siege warfare against castles with stone defences and donjons [or "dungeons"--known as "Keeps"--which were fortress-like-structures containing a strong central tower] emerge during the Scottish invasion of England in 1173-1174. King William of Scotland came south to claim back Northumbria with a powerful army that included many Flemish mercenaries, and in so doing laid siege to a number of castles in the north of England. ...The Scottish army...attacked Brough Castle in Cumbria [in 1174], which was defended by six knights. Brough was basically an enclosure defended by walls erected in about 1100, with a square donjon at one end, against which the curtain terminated. The Scots laid siege to the castle on all sides and, after a hard fight, they managed to take possession of the outer walls the same day. The defenders pulled back and sought refuge in the tower. Temporarily foiled, the Scots brought up combustibles and set fire to the tower. This would suggest it was made of wood, but the foundations of that tower survive, showing it was of stone, built on the remains of Roman barracks, with a huge foundation of herringbone masonry. As the fire and smoke took hold, the garrison surrendered, and all appeared to be over. However...a newly arrived knight would have none of it. Remaining in the donjon he took two shields, climbed to the roof and hung them over the battlements. He threw three javelins down on the Scots, killing a man with each. Then he seized sharp stakes and hurled them, shouting "You shall all be vanquished!" [or conquered]. Once the shields had been consumed by fire, he decided he had done enough and surrendered. ...The better part of the tower was [then] overthrown, suggesting that after the siege the Flemish soldiers assisted in its demise with pickaxes. ...In the late 12th or early 13th century a second stone tower was erected on the foundations of the first at Brough, set on a raft of timbers, which survives to this day.

Brough Families of Cumbria, England

For hundreds of years, many "Brough" families have resided in Cumbria (formerly Cumberland), England. In November 2009, Catharine Ann Brough Hind, a well-known Brough genealogist and historian, stated that there is "evidence of direct connection between the Broughs of Appleby, Cumbria, and the Lords [of] Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, with the Broughs of Leekfryth [Staffordshire] in 1486 as shewn in a volume of 15th and 16th century correspondence and legal grant[s] of land in Staffordshire and Derbyshire…." Needless to say, the BFO is continuing to research this possibility and other related matters.

Genealogies of the Broughs of Cumbria (or Cumberland) are listed within the "Genealogies" section of the BFO website.