Some 630' above sea level, Brough castle is built upon the Roman site of Verterae on a bluff commanding the Swindale Beck.  The fort itself may have been built upon an older settlement as an Irish designed ornate flanged bronze axe was discovered here.  Pottery finds consisted of some second and third century ware, but most came from the late fourth century.  Stone fragments found include 2 uninscribed altars, 2 columns and 2 querns.  In the third quarter of the nineteenth century many fibulae and bronze objects were recovered from the river as well as over 130 lead seals, both official and private.  These suggest that this was a major delivery site for goods or at least a dumping ground for military rubbish!  Many of these seals were inscribed cohors VIII Thracum.  This unit originally came from Thrace and was therefore in this district, if not within the fort itself, in the third century.  The name Verterae would seem to come from the verb Verto which could have many meanings, viz, to turn, overthrow, destroy, transform, reverse or exchange to name a few.  As sealed military artifacts seem to have been unloaded here it was perhaps ‘the place of exchanges'.

Coins found on the site apparently numbered in their thousands in the eighteenth century.  They cover the broad range of the Roman era, beginning with the Republic and include some coin from the time of Claudius (41-54AD).  The Roman Republic ended in 27BC, while the fort itself could not have been built before the penetration of the North of England began around 70AD, nearly 100 years after the end of the Republic.  This again shows the dangers of dating sites by finds and proves the necessity of checking history against archaeology, before coming to any tentative conclusions of a site's origin and development.  The last certain coin found at Brough was from the reign of Constans (337-50AD) although another coin may be one of Theodosius I (379-95AD).  Other coins were thought to have been ‘minimi or the small pieces presumed to have been made in imitation of these by the abandoned Roman-British population about the fifth century'. 

The fort is said to have been repaired or renovated by Virius Lupus, who was governor of Britannia from 197 to 200 AD.  Such rebuilding was apparently commemorated on a lost Roman inscription found at Brough.  Another inscription found near the site of east gate ran:

For the Emperor Caesar Lucius Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus, and for the Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Felix Augustus, and for Publius Septimius Geta most noble Caesar, in the consulship of Our (two) Lords the Emperor Antoninus for the second time and Geta Caesar; the Sixth Cohort of Nervians which Lucius Vinicius Pius, prefect of the said cohort, commands, built (this) barrack-block, under the charge of Gaius Valerius Pudens, senator of consular rank.

Another lost inscription also recorded:

For the Emperor Caesar Lucius Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus and for the Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Felix Augustus and for Publius Septimius Geta, most noble Caesar, the Sixth Cohort of Nervians built this [rampart] of uncoursed masonry with annexe-wall under the charge of Lucius Alfenus Senecio, senator of consular rank; Lucius Vinicius Pius, prefect of the same cohort …, had direction of the work.

As Lucius Alfenus Senecio, was a senator from about 205 to 208 AD this again shows that work was carried out here under the Emperor Septimius Severus (193-211AD).  This obviously occurred after his recovery of Britannia from the dead hands of the usurper Clodius Albinus (193-97AD).  Further, it would seem that this inscription had been reused as a flagstone in the fourth century Headquarters Building, and that a statue of Maximianus Herculius (286-305) had been placed on it.  Regardless, the inscription would suggest that this ‘annexe' was once walled.  Certainly there are earthwork ramparts currently to both east and west of the fort.  An incised Roman grave slab with Greek inscription in the church porch is also probably associated with the fort, dedicated to a 16 year old Syrian called Hermes. 

Brough is mentioned twice in the Antonine Itinerary.  This work is generally reckoned to date from the reign of Diocletian, the co-emperor with Maximian (284-305AD).  The first time Verterae is stated as lying 13 miles from Kirby Thore (Bravoniacvm) and 14 miles from Bowes (Lavatris) in Iter II.  It is then found in Iter V, again 14 miles from Lavatris, but this time 20 miles from Brougham (Brocavvm).  The fort of Verteris is next named in the Notitia Dignitatum (usually assumed to date to the 420s in the West) which would suggest, but not prove, that occupation continued at the site well into the fifth century.  This text has Uerteris between the entries for Lavatris and Bravoniacum as in Iter II of the Antonine Itinerary.  The much later Ravenna Cosmography of the seventh century has Valteris after Castleford (Lagentium) and before
Old Penrith (Bereda), the old Roman Voreda.

In the Notitia Dignitatum the Brough garrison was said to be the Numerous Directorum, a unit assigned to the Duke of the Britons.  A numerous was an irregular unit of some 400 auxiliary troops, usually part mounted, but the meaning of Directorum is disputed.  One possible meaning is ‘a west to east movement in an epicycle'.  Possibly this suggests that these units were regularly shuffled about the Wall to make sure they didn't grow too attached to their environment and too friendly to neighbouring hostile or potentially hostile forces, although the standard suggestion that they were border guides is just as possible.

Fort Description
The masonry Roman fort was about 220' east to west by 350' north to south, while the surrounding ditches are up to 50' wide and 20' deep.  A brief excavation under the keep in the 1930s found the remains of 2 Roman buildings presumed to be barracks on which what was thought to have been 2 separate keeps were built in the Middle Ages.  Further Roman masonry was uncovered near the centre of the fort which may have been part of the principia as well as pottery dating from the Flavian period (69-96AD). 

Some 215' of the eastern castle ditch was excavated in 1993 prior to drainage works.  This showed that the Roman ditch had been recut in medieval times.  The site of the bathhouse has also been identified some 160' southeast of the fort, while part of a vicus has been found on the level ground some 600' southeast of the fort and due east of the church.  Excavation uncovered 2 phase timber buildings with clay floors and associated pottery dated from the time of the Roman conquest of the district until the third century.  The limits of the vicus have not been discovered, but a Roman cemetery was discovered in 1972 some 1,000' east of the castle.

Three other earthworks may be relevant to the fort.  The first is some 180' west of the castle keep and consists of a pathetic 2' high rampart with 10' deep, 40' wide ditch to the west.  This is as wide as the castle defences on the west side and ends with its northern end on the scarp to the Swindale Beck, while its southern end is, in military parlance, ‘in the air'.  Its military use is therefore somewhat suspect.  A further 180' beyond this is another parallel rampart and ditch of similar dimensions at the head of the spur of land the fort lies upon.  This is about 300' long against the first rampart's 180'.  Either could be part of the annex mentioned around 200AD.

East of the castle is a ditched snout shaped platform pointing due east.  Possibly this was part of a larger castle bailey which was cut off when the current bailey east wall was built - assuming that the right angled north-east corner of the enceinte is original.  Foundations within this ‘snout' have been suggested as being traces of a walled garden possibly of Lady Anne Clifford's time (1605-76).  Running south from the snout is a denuded rampart and 6' deep ditch, between 50' and 60' wide.  This lies some 120' east of the fort ditch and has been much built upon in the last century.

The Castle History
It would seem likely that Brough castle was founded on the northern portion of a Roman fort when William Rufus (1087-1100) invaded and conquered Cumberland in 1092.  This expedition certainly saw the king founding Carlisle castle.  Excavation in the village in 1972 uncovered traces of Pre-Norman settlement in the district.  This could suggest a continuity of occupation on the Roman fort site and that Rufus's troops made use of an existing fortification.  However, it seems unlikely that Rufus was personally responsible for the castle's foundation.  Certainly there is no motte of royal dimensions at Brough, while the motte like earthwork around the keep is quite minuscule compared to Warkworth, Gisors or Chateau sur Epte mottes, all of which were apparently built in Rufus' reign.  Excavation has confirmed that the builders of Brough castle recut the Roman ditch and piled the resultant soil up over the Roman walls and gateways, sealing a great depth of Roman stratification and making the southern 2/3 of the fort into an apparent outer bailey.  The question remains as to who built this original mottless castle - and as such it should be noted that all the major  castles of the surrounding districts have no motte either - viz. Appleby, Barnard Castle, Bewcastle, Bowes, Brougham, Carlisle, Cockermouth, Kendal, Lancaster and Pendragon.  The exceptions are Durham, Egremont, Harbottle, Liddel [mostly destroyed], Tebay [heavily damaged], Tickhill, Wark, Warkworth and of course the 2 at York.  Minor mottes are said to exist in Cumberland at Beaumont, Brampton, Irthington and Maryport.  The best way to proceed from here, as ever, is to examine the tenurial history of the site.

At the time of the annexation of Cumberland by Rufus in 1092, Brough seems originally to have formed part of the earlier parish of Kirkby Stephen, the church of which was granted before 1097 to St Mary's of York under Abbot Stephen (1080/89-1112) by Ivo Taillebois (d.1094/97).  Ivo seems to have acquired Appleby, Kendal and Kirkby Stephen during the time of King William II's annexation of the lordship of Carlisle in 1092.  After Ivo's death in the period 1094 to 1097, Appleby lordship seems to have passed with his widow, Lucy Bolingbroke (d.1138), first to Roger Fitz Gerold and then around 1098 to her third husband, Ranulf le Meschin (d.1129).  Around the same time as his marriage with Lucy, this Ranulf was invested with the lordship of Carlisle.  That Ranulf made no grant concerning Kirkby Stephen or Brough would be logical if St Mary's already held these lands by the grant of Ivo, the previous husband of Lucy.

Ivo's original grant of Brough was included amongst his grant to St Mary's.  These included the services of half his lordship of Kirkby Stephen with the church and tithes, land in Winton (Wytuna) and the churches of Kendal (Cherkaby-Kendale) and Eversham and Kirkby Lonsdale (Cherkeby-Lonnesdala) and the lands which pertained to them, namely the vill of Hutton, the church of Beetham? (Bethome), the land called Helbeck (Halfrebek) and the churches of Burton in Lonsdale (Burton) and Cliburn (Clepeam).  As Ivo held the church of Kirkby Stephen it is all but inconceivable that he did not also hold the rest of the parish.  It is also noticeable that the chapel of Brough was not mentioned in this early grant.  This suggests that it was not built at this time, although it certainly existed before the twelfth century was out.  This can be seen as the monks of St Mary in turn granted the advowson of Kirkby Stephen with the chapel of Brough to the bishops of Carlisle before 1214.  Abbot Thomas Wardhull (Warterhille) of St Mary's, York (1244-58), confirmed that the bishops held Ormside, Musgrave, Brough and Appleby churches on 8 May 1248.  From this evidence it is reasonably clear that Ivo Taillebois was lord of the district within which Brough castle stood between 1092 and his death which occurred between 1094 and 1097.  As such he is far more likely the founder of the fortress than William Rufus or Ivo's 3 successors, Roger Fitz Gerold (d.bef.1098), Earl Ranulf le Meschin of Chester (d.1129) or King Henry I (1100-35).  It is also apparent that both Appleby and Brough castles shared earlier rectangular keeps as their main defences.  This is also possible, but unlikely for Kendal castle, which was probably at Castle Howe at this time.

On Earl Ranulf of Chester's death in 1120, it is thought that King Henry I (1100-35) resumed Carlisle lordship when he made Ranulf le Meschin earl of Chester in his cousin's place.  However, there is no direct evidence as to when this happened although it was certainly before 1122 when the king went to view his town of Carlisle.  On acquiring the lordship the king is thought to have reorganised the old Meschin fief into a northern and a southern sphere, Appleby with Kirkby Stephen and Brough was apparently subsumed into what was to become Westmorland.

It therefore seems most likely that during the reign of Rufus (1087-1100) Ivo Talebois (d.1094/97), ordered the construction of Brough castle.  It would subsequently have fallen to King David of Scotland (1124-53) in the late 1130s when he overran much of the north of England and certainly acquired the castles of Alnwick, Bamburgh, Carlisle, Cockermouth, Egremont, Lancaster, Norham, Skipton and Warkworth.  If the castle existed it would therefore have been held by the Scots until 1157 when it was returned by King Malcolm (1153-60) to King Henry II (1154-89).  It would seem that Brough castle existed at this time, but no money was recorded as being spent on it.  If work did occur here it should have been accounted for in the pipe rolls which are complete for the reign of Henry from 1155.  That no money was spent at all on the castle would suggest it was complete and defensible.  However, it should be noted that money for the castle's upkeep may have come from sources unrecorded in the pipe roll and that a nominal sum of £5 was usually accounted for the upkeep of Carlisle castle during this period.  Despite this lack of record, the extant castle remained stubbornly outside recorded history until war again convulsed the north in the 1170s.

 In 1173, Queen Eleanor (d.1204) and her sons led by the Young King Henry III (d.1184) rebelled against their father, Henry II (1154-89).  As a result, in 1173-74, the king spent £58 2s 8d on garrisoning the castles of Westmorland.  Presumably these were Appleby, Brough and possibly Pendragon.  The position of Kendal at this time is uncertain.  The implication of the pipe rolls accounts for Westmorland made between 1175 and 1178 is that some or all of this county had been under the control of Hugh Morville (d.1201) who had various lands in the North in his bail or custody.  Whatever the case of the castle's status, in 1173 King William I of Scotland (1165-1214) invaded the North of England, but probably didn't progress as far south as Brough.  According to the pipe rolls, money was spent during this period on the defences of Carlisle, but not the nearby royal castles of Appleby and Brough.  Work, however, had been undertaken at Bowes from 1171.

In the Spring of 1174 King William the Lion returned to invade the North of England and, according to the well informed chronicler, Hoveden:

besieged Carlisle, which Robert Vaux had in custody.  And, leaving a portion of his army in besieging the castle, with the remainder he marched through Northumberland, devastating the lands of the king and his barons.  And he took the castles of Liddel, Brough (Burgo), Appleby (Appelbi), Warkworth (Wercwrede) and Harbottle (Yrebotle) which was held by Odonel Umfraville, after which he returned to the siege of Carlisle.

Similarly during the Great Cause in 1291 the monks of Croyland reported back that from their chronicle it was recorded that:

King William with David his brother and the knights of the earl of Leicester besieged Carlisle castle which was held by Robert Vaux.  After a few days he went with part of his army, invading the lands of the barons of the English king in Northumberland and took by arms the castle of Liddel (Liudel) which belonged to Nicholas Stuteville and the castles of Brough (Burgh) and Appleby; royal castles garrisoned by Robert Stuteville and the king's castle of Warkworth (Werkewrda) which was in the custody of Roger Fitz Richard and the castle of Harbottle (Hirebothle) which was held by Odonel Umfraville and afterwards he took his army back to Carlisle and then he made a peace with Robert Vaux, as Robert's stocks were diminished, that he [Robert] would surrender the castle and borough if he was not relieved by Michaelmas.

Similarly it was found in the chronicles of Bridlington priory that King William of Scotland had captured Brough castle before 13 July 1174 when he was taken at Alnwick.  The siege of Brough appears in the rhyming chronicle of Jordan Fantosme and it should be noted that the above chronicles place the taking of Brough before Appleby, when logic as well as Fantosme state the opposite.  As a passing note, the route of King William's armies would have meant that he covered some 340 miles during these operations and as the action took place before 12 July, when the king was at Alnwick, he must have been travelling on horseback and picking any infantry up on site.

To Brough they wish to go; the resolution was soon taken,
If it is not surrendered to them, no one shall go out of it alive;
But the castle was not altogether so unprovided
That there were not in it more than 6 knights.
The castle was very soon besieged on all sides;
Both the Flemings and the Marchers make a vigorous assault upon them,
And have on the first day taken from them the bailey,
And they soon have abandoned it, and placed themselves in the tower,
Now they are in this tower, few hours will they hold out:
For they set fire to it: they will burn those inside it.
They neither know of any resource nor what they can do:
Already the fire has caught; now there they will be burnt.
`By my faith, noble sire, if you please, they will not do so
Rather will they act like knights: they will offer to capitulate to the king.
For they see very well that they will have no succour.'
They cannot endure longer: to the king they have surrendered.
That is a right act which they now do.
To the king they have surrendered; great sorrow have they in their hearts.
But a new knight came to them that day,
Now hear of his deeds, and of his great strength.
When his companions had all surrendered,
He returned to the tower, and seized two shields,
He hung them on the battlements, stayed there a long time,
And hurled on the Scots 3 sharp javelins:
With each of the javelins he struck a man dead.
When these failed him, he takes sharp bolts
And hurled them at the Scots: so he confounded some of them;
And ever he goes on shouting: `Soon shall you all be vanquished.'
Never by a single vassal was a conflict better maintained.
When the fire deprived him of the defence of his shields
He is not to blame if he then surrendered.
Now is Brough demolished, and the best of the tower.

Quite clearly the fighting in the castle advanced from the overthrow of the defence of the inner ward to the keep where the knights made a brief last stand before the tower was set on fire.  That one knight refused to surrender and reentered the burning keep would suggest that the tower was of stone, for surely a wooden structure alight would have taken a man defending the battlements with it.  However, it is possible that after a stubborn defence, that might have only lasted a few minutes - the time needed to throw 3 spears and some ‘sharp bolts' (peus aguz), he could have retreated down the straight mural steps, assuming that this was the keep assaulted and that the upper floor with its spiral stair was yet to be built, while the wooden floors and roof of the tower was ablaze.  That the tower was stone is apparently confirmed by the 1920s investigations of the ‘motte'.  This will be dealt with in the castle description.  However, something that needs further comment is the term ‘sharp bolts' which are usually translated as sharp stakes.  This is a translation of the term peus aguz.  Peus derives from pale, for which the Anglo-Norman dictionary gives the following terms as current translation, stake, stave, stick, pointed piece of wood intended to be driven into the ground, pile, something used to prop up material, thorn, peel (boundary), fence, wooden fence or palisade make of stakes, limit, boundary border, staff, wooden post as quintain, bolt, bar, stripe, band, mast, pole.  Quite clearly most of these can be dismissed as not something you would carry up a tower during a siege.  Possibly then the sharpened things being hurled off the tower might have been sharpened palisade timbers taken up there especially for this purpose, or even an unfinished hoarding, but surely, more likely these were sharpened bolts and rather than door bolts, the trouble being taken to sharpen them being rather pointless, it is a euphemism for crossbow bolts he was firing down on the besiegers from above.  The idea that a prepared castle would be defended without crossbows would be rather silly.  That said, the term used for throwing the spears and the bolts was lancer which translates as throw, cast, hurl, fling, expel, thrust, launch, direct or fling.  Again this rather proves nothing.

With the fall of the castle it was probably sacked and left ruined.  Certainly there is no mention in Fantosme of Brough being garrisoned by the Scots as Appleby had been.  After the war of 1173-74 the king reorganised Cumberland and Westmorland into counties with Reiner the dapifer of Ranulf Glanville (d.1190) accounted in 1177 for the 3 years rent and being allowed £58 2s 8d for custody of the castles of Westmorland.  Presumably these were Appleby and Brough castles which pertained to the sheriffdom, although Kendal and Pendragon might also have been included with these.  The same year it was recorded that Adam Fitz Robert Truite and Robert Vaux had no idea of how much money they had spent during the war.  Consequently their sergeants were to ‘access how much they received in past years as they do not know'.  Despite this Robert Vaux paid £112 4d into the treasury after rendering an account of £342 12d for the farm of Cumberland for this year and the last 2 years.  Wikipedia claims King ‘William then destroyed the remaining defences of the castle using Flemish mercenary troops'.  It cannot be stated too strongly that no original source supports this assertion.  In fact the opposite is true as by September 1175 a force of sergeants was in the king's castle of  Brough (Burgh) under Torphin Fitz Robert at a cost of £5.  Presuming these were foot serjeants they could have been paid anything between a penny and 4d a day.  Most likely they were on about 2d per day.  At 2d a day this would have allowed a force of 10 sergeants to reside at the castle for 60 days.  Presumably this force would have augmented the standard garrison.  The garrison of Appleby, in 1173 when it surrendered, was some 30 named men under Gospatric Fitz Orm (d.1185).  The status of these men cannot be assumed, but as Gospatric seems to have been a sergeant, it is unlikely that any were knights, but how many were sergeants or simple foot is unknown.  If the 6 knights of Brough were supported by sergeants there should have been 12 of them and 120 foot, using the usual twelfth century ratios, which of course could not be religiously adhered to.  However, a force of some 178 men in Brough would probably not have been forced out of the bailey and certainly could not have taken cover within the keep.  Most likely there were only the 6 knights defending the fortress, though where the locals would have gone during the attack is another matter.

In 1175 it was recorded in the September pipe roll that £22 had been given in land to William Stuteville (d.1203) in Brough (Burch) as well as £5 for Torphin Fitz Robert retaining sergeants in the royal castle of Brough.  Other castles garrisoned on the Yorkshire roll this year included Edinburgh (Castellum Puellarum) and Norham, while repairs were carried out in Scarborough and Topcliffe castles.  No payment was recorded for work at Brough.  This would tend to indicate that the bailey was not damaged during the assault and that the woodwork of the tower burned during the assault may already have been replaced and the keep again habitable.  Certainly the keep in its current form seems to predate 1174.

According to Wikipedia after this:

Henry II had a square stone keep constructed in the 1180s by first Theobald de Valoignes and then Hugh de Morville, who rebuilt the remains of the castle.  It was placed into the bailey wall, allowing it to directly support the outer defences.  Thomas de Wyrkington conducted further work between 1199 and 1202 for King John, converting the castle entirely into stone.

None of the tertiary sources quoted to back this series of false assertions quotes a single original document and, as the history from original sources clearly shows, all of this is merely spurious guesswork, the most fun part of which is that according to the pipe rolls, if the ludicrous Wikipedia account is accepted, it cost much less than £40 to convert ‘the castle entirely into stone'.  All that can be said in reality is that in August 1181 King Henry II (1154-89) may have visited the castle when he went from York up to Knaresborough then down to Richmond and across Stainmore via Brough to Appleby and Carlisle.  His itinerary that year gave sufficient time and impetus to grant Appleby a charter of liberties, but nothing is mentioned of his time at Brough.

Brough next appears in the historical record during 1197, when the borough paid 18s tallage.  The next year, 1198, a full mark (13s 4d) was spent in amending Brough castle, while Appleby had £2 spent on it by the sheriff of Westmorland.  Such improvement was continued under King John (1199-1216) who's sheriff of Westmorland spent £4 on Brough, £5 on Appleby and £2 16s on Pontefract castles in 1199.  The next year, 1200, the king spent considerably more money on the fortresses.  First £22 15s 1d was spent on repairing Appleby and Brough castles under the view of Thomas Fitz Gospatric, Ivo Johnby and Hugh Fitz Gernagan.  To furnish both castles 9 tuns of wine and 100 bacons were bought at King's Lynn and transported to the fortresses, 6 tons and the bacons to Appleby and the other 3 tuns of wine to Brough at a cost of £28 16s 8d.  Work began on strengthening both castles in 1201 with the sheriff spending £19 16s 5d by the view of William Denton and Robert Newby.  Finally in 1202, only 15s was spent on the works of Brough castle.  No other work was recorded at any other castle in Westmorland at this time.

On 21 February 1203, King John (1199-1216) informed his lieges that he had given to Robert Vipont (d.1228) ‘custody of our castles of Appleby and Brough (Burgo) with all purtenances...'.  Before this date Robert had been one of King John's staunchest supporters in Normandy.  As such he was given custody of Prince Arthur in Rouen castle.  There the prince disappeared, allegedly done to death by King John around 6 April 1203.  Around the same time, on 31 March 1203, King John announced that not only had he given Robert custody of Appleby and Brough castles, but he also had included all the bail of Westmorland.  Finally on 28 October 1203, the king converted this grant into a hereditary grant of Appleby and Brough with the county of Westmorland for Robert and his heirs.  Interestingly the castles were not mentioned in this final grant, just the placenames.  More of Robert's career can be followed under Appleby castle.

The Northern chronicler of Lanercost, probably copying Richard of Durham who wrote around 1297, carried a confused account of these events which they set in 1213, not 1203.  In this it is wrongly written that William Vipont (d.1198), mistaken for his son, Robert Vipont (d.1228), was lord of Westmorland and that he helped King John murder prince Arthur at Rouen.  As Robert was present at Rouen at the time of the murder and received the grant of Westmorland with Appleby and Brough castles around the same time, this is plausible, though by no means provable.  Indeed much else of Lanercost's remembrances of this period are definitely erroneous.  Regardless of this, it is the next part of the chronicle that is really of interest, for it reads:

But Arthur's sister, Eleanor, was first privately detained in the custody of William Vipont in Westmorland at Brough castle and afterwards at Bowes; after that she was removed as far as Corfe castle where she lived in seclusion until her death, and ended her life in our times.

This appears perfectly feasible if Robert is swapped for William and it is assumed that Eleanor moved to Corfe castle before being moved to her various places of imprisonment in the Southwest, dying eventually in Gloucester or Bristol castle on 10 August 1241.  Regardless, the impression given is that Brough was a fully functional castle in 1203 as the Lanercost chronicle was apparently recording a tradition that Eleanor was kept at Brough and Bowes early in her imprisonment.  It should also be noted that medieval prisoners of rank were usually held in the highest point of the keep for security and not some dank dungeon.  This would also indicate that the keep was habitable by this date.  Again, the castle was apparently operational when Robert died a little before 1 February 1228, the king granting the ward of the land and heir of Robert Vipont to Earl Hubert Burgh of Kent (d.1243).  He then commanded the constables of Pendragon (Malverstang), Perlethorpe (Peverelthorpe, Notts), Appleby, Brougham and Brough (Burgh) to give them up to the earl's men.  If Brough keep was operational in 1203 when Eleanor was held there, it would indicate that the current structure must have predated that date if its predecessor was ‘destroyed' in 1174, as no royal money was spent on its building - the paltry amount of some £25 during 1199-1202 barely being enough to build the forebuilding, let alone the keep.  It was unlikely that any major building took place at the castle during a minority either as the estates tended to be run for the benefit of the custodian, rather than them facing expenditure to improve their ward's lands.

John Vipont came of age in 1233, but died young before 25 July 1241, leaving an approximately 7 year old son, Robert.  Consequently on 4 August 1241, Henry Souleby was appointed custodian of Brough castle.  The next year on 1 May 1242, all John's castles and lands were granted to Bishop Walter Malus of Carlisle (1223-46 (d.1248)) for 600m (£400) pa.  It was probably in 1254, at the end of Robert Vipont's minority, that an inquisition was ordered into the waste committed to the lands formerly of John Vipoint by the prior of Carlisle, while he was guardian of the heir.  This found:

that in the manor of Burgo, the tower there is decaying and the joists rotting, while many of the houses are being brought to nothing due to the defective custody of the prior.

Again this shows that the tower had been repaired since 1174, otherwise its burnt out jousts could hardly be ‘rotting'.  As there is no record of a new tower being built under royal control (1174-1203), it was either constructed by Robert Vipont in an archaic design, or the stone tower burned in 1174, was simply refloored and reroofed.  Judging by the remains the latter seems the more logical assumption.

Presumably Robert Vipont (d.1264) rectified these faults with the castle over the next few years.  He died, only 12 years later on 7 June 1264, from his wounds after the battle of Lewes on 14 May.  How his estates were divided amongst his 2 daughters and their fate is described more appropriatly under the caput of the barony, Appleby.  Roger Leybourne (d.1284) received Brough on his 1267 marriage to Idonea (d.1333), the younger of Robert's 2 daughters.  The division of the lands between the 2 heiresses including breaking up the lordship of Brough.  On 5 June 1281, an order was given to perambulate the bounds between the land of the earl of Richmond in Richmond, Yorkshire, and the land of lords Clifford and Leybourne and their wives in Brough, Westmorland.  That Brough had been divided is confirmed by 2 further documents.  On the first of 1 August 1281, it is implied that Roger Clifford (d.1282) held rights in Brough borough as he agreed to pay Albyn the merchant £17 for wool at the market at Brough under Stainmore.  This fact is confirmed by the inquest post mortem on Roger's widow in 1292.  Three years after the Brough agreement in February 1284, Roger Leybourne died and the resultant inquisition found that he:

held no land of his own proper heritage of the king nor any other in Westmorland, but held in chief of the king as of the heritage of the said Idonea, the castle of Brough under Stainmore with a moiety of that manor, worth yearly in all issues £70 13s; the moiety of the manor of [Long] Marton, worth yearly £13 3s 5¼d; the moiety of the manor of Appleby, worth yearly £27 5s 3¼d the fourth part of the manor of Kings Meaburn, worth yearly £12 11s 6½d; the manor of Winton, worth yearly £24 2s 3¼d; the manor of Kirkby Stephen, worth yearly £39 16s 9d; the castle of Pendragon (Mallerstang) with the moiety of the forest, worth yearly £22 3s 9½d; the moiety of the forest of Quinnefell, worth yearly £23 3s 3½d; the moiety of the services of the knights and free tenants in Westmorland called cornage, worth yearly £13 11s 4d; fee farms of free tenants, worth yearly £2 15s 7¾d and the moiety of the profits of the county court, worth yearly £3 6a 8d.  All of this was held of the king in chief by the service of 2 knights' fees.

Idonea went on to marry John Cromwell (d.1335), taking Brough castle into his hands during the minority of the heir, John Leybourne who had been born on 2 February 1281.  In the meantime there was a major patronage dispute in 1287 between the heirs of Robert Vipont of Appleby and Brough, the bishop of Carlisle and the Crown.  Each claimed the patronage of Brough church.  The king claimed this right because his father, Henry III (1216-72), had presented William Clifford, the last incumbent to Brough church.  The daughters of Robert Vipont came to court and replied that Brough manor had previously belonged to Hugh Moreville (d.1201) who forfeited it to Henry II (1154-89).  In turn Henry's son, King Richard I (1189-99), gave the church to Thomas Bowet from whom it came to King John (1199-1216) who granted it with Appleby to Robert Vipont, the ancestor of the current sisters.  Then, many years afterwards, during the minority of their father, Robert Vipont (d.1264), Henry III held the custody of the barony and so appointed Peter Chamberi to the church.  After Peter's death, Brough again being in the custody of Henry III due to the death of the sisters' father, Robert Vipont (d.1264) and the sisters still being underage, Henry III once again made a presentation to the church, this time of the William Clifford who had recently died.  They further stated that Bishop Walter Mauclerk of Carlisle had similarly presented to the church during the minority of Robert Vipont, their father.  Despite this well argued case, the court eventually found that the advowson belonged to the Crown as King John's grant gave only Brough with its appurtenances and the advowson was not mentioned!  This therefore must have remained to the Crown.

Meanwhile Brough castle remained in the hands of John Cromwell through his Vipont wife.  Before 14 May 1292, Isabel Clifford nee Vipont died.  Her inquest found that:

she held the manor of Brough under Stainmore in chief of the king where there were 134 acres and 3 roods of arable land worth 18d for each acre yearly; 5 acres of waste land worth 3d an acre; 50 acres of meadow worth 12d an acre; of William's Rydding 30s; 20 bovates of land rendered £8 2s 9d yearly; 11 cotters rendered for their messuages and gardens 23s; free tenants rendered £19 17s yearly; two mounds (torella) rendered 9d yearly; in the lower Brough 25 free tenants rendered 20s 6d yearly; the autumn works of tenants raised 10s 6d; of stallage 3s; of the oven 20s; 3 forges rendered 3s 9d yearly; 3 cotters rendered 10s yearly; perquisites of the court 15s yearly; the office of constable and his foresters £3 6s 8d; a wool assessment house (Yarnest cesthouse) was worth 20s yearly; a certain herbage in Stainmore with agistment was worth £5 yearly; two closes were worth £8 6s 8d yearly; 13 vacaries with a plot were worth £26 3s 4d yearly and sea-coal 3s.

This gave a total value of £101 10s 10¾d per annum for Brough manor, without the castle which was held by her sister and her husband, John Cromwell.  On 6 September 1307, the new King Edward II (1307-27) was at Brough where he issued a grant before moving off to Bowes and Knaresborough.  The next year on 14 July 1308, John Cromwell (d.1335) and his wife, Idonea Vipont (d.1333), granted in fee to Robert Clifford [their nephew], Brough castle with the manors of Appleby, Kings Meaburn, Kirkby Stephen and
Pendragon [Mallerstang] with their appurtenances in Westmorland.  By this act the old barony of Robert Vipont (d.1228) in Westmorland was virtually recreated in Clifford hands with Appleby at its head.  Brough castle was still obviously defensible at this time, for after the battle of Bannockburn where Robert Clifford was killed on 24 June 1314, Edward Bruce (d.1318):

invaded England via Berwick and progressed as far beyond Richmond although they attacked no castles.  Afterwards... they all returned by Swaledale and other valleys and by Stainmoor, whence they carried off an immense booty of cattle.  Also they burned the towns of Brough and Appleby and Kirkoswald... trampling down the crops by themselves and their beasts as much as they could...

After this assault an inquest post mortem was carried out on the Westmorland lands of Robert Clifford on 26 August 1314.  This found that Brough castle was held of Appleby barony and that the castle within the precinct of the trenches had a herbage which was worth 6s 8d yearly.  The lordship consisted of 200 acres of demesne, of which 22 at least were worth 9d a year each.  There were also 110 acres of meadow each worth a shilling a year.  Further, there were 2 parks, the herbage of which with all issues was worth 100s per annum.  The free tenants of the manor paid 17s 2d yearly, while 20 oxgangs of land were worth 4s yearly.  There were 10 tofts coterell worth 6d each per year and the bakehouse with the profits of measuring the village corn brought in 20s.  The water mill had been burned, but was previously worth £6 13s 4d, while the constableship of the castle was worth 40s and the profits of the fairs 10s.  In the lower burgh were  24½ tofts which, although they had been burned, used to pay a shilling yearly.  On Stainmore were 10 vaccaries which had been burned, previously each of these with their attached meadows had been worth 10s.  Five vaccaries had survived unburned which were worth £20 pa. with their meadows.  There were also 3 tenants holding 4 closes of new improvement worth 115s and a farthing per year, while the pleas and perquisites of the court brought in 13s 4d.  In total the lordship was worth £49 18s 4d per year.  The lordship would appear to have been still intact on 15 July 1315, when Ralph Fitz William was ordered to provision Carlisle by taking produce from various places.  Brough park was assessed for 6 bucks.  A month after the inquisition on 27 September 1314, the castle and manor of Brough were assigned as dower to Robert's widow, Matilda Clare (d.1327), even though the Clifford estates were in the hands of Bartholomew Badlesmere (d.1322) during the minority of the Clifford heir since at least 18 September.  Bartholomew was married to Margaret, the sister of Matilda Clifford, nee Clare (d.1327).  Regardless of this, the escheator, Ralph Fitz William, was ordered by the king to hand Brough castle over to her.  Quite clearly the fortress had weathered the storm, although on 3 August 1316, Robert Clitheroe was ordered to provision Brough and Cockermouth castles which were in his custody.  A month later further misdemeanours were obviously occurring within Westmorland for on 4 October 1316 the king set up a commission at the request of Bartholomew Badlesmere (d.1322) to determine who had broken the parks of Appleby and Brougham and entered the free chases at Brough under Stainmore and Kirkby Stephen, hunted therein and carried deer away.

In 1316 it is claimed that the king ordered Robert Welles (d.1320) to maintain at Brough castle 15 sergeants fully mailed and mounted on covered war horses and 20 hobelars mounted on hobby or fell ponies at the fortress and, if necessary to place a further 10 sergeants and 10 hobelars on the king's pay.  Robert Welles, a king's clerk, had been made receiver and keeper of the king's victuals and stock at Carlisle on 20 May 1315 and married the widowed Clifford lady of Brough, Matilda Clare (d.1327), without a royal license, a little before 3 October 1316.  In November 1319, after the 12 October ‘Chapter of Mytton', it is said the Scots returned from Yorkshire over Stainmore pass and in Randolph and Douglas visited Brough again, ‘laying all waste' according to Barbour's highly partisan and often dishonest tales in The Bruce. 

In 1322 the young Roger Clifford was executed at York on 23 March after being captured at the battle of Boroughbridge.  Skipton was apparently confiscated, but Brough, as his mother's dower, remained in her hands.  On 24 May 1327, after Matilda's death, it was found that she held Brough in dower which included the castle within the walls, lands and rents including a garden, herbage of the castle ditch and profits from the fair and from Stainmore.  The same year the Mortimer government of Edward III (1327-77) is said to have restored Robert Clifford (d.1344) to his estates, including Brough.  On 2 August 1330, Clifford was granted a market at Brough to be held every Thursday, as well as the right to hold a fair 2 days before the Feast of St. Matthew, that day and the day after.  Unusually the original charter is said to have survived in Appleby castle which remained the head of the barony.  Repair work may have been going on at the castle when, on 3 December 1383, the king ordered that the sheriff of Cumberland should supply stone cutters, masons and other labourers until Easter at the wages of the said Roger Clifford (d.1389) ‘for the repair of certain castles and fortlets of Roger Clifford which are useful as a refuge for the king's subjects'.

At the accession of Henry Tudor (1485-1509) in 1485 the castle was returned to Henry Clifford (d.1523).  He is generally known as the shepherd lord from his being brought up in obscurity to avoid the vengeance of the Yorkists who had killed his father and disinherited him.  After enjoying his patrimony for 35 years a disaster overcome Brough castle when the hall and associated buildings caught fire and were burnt out after the Christmas festivities of 1521.  That might have been the end of the castle if it were not for the Lady Anne Clifford (d.1676), restoring the fortress between 1659 and 1662.  In her own words, in April 1659:

did I cause my old decayed castle of Brough to be repaired and also the old tower called the Roman Tower in the said castle and a courthouse for keeping in my courts in some 12 or 14 rooms to be built in it upon the old foundation.

In 1660 she continued:

And in April and May this year did the masons begin to build up again and repair my castle of Brough in Westmorland, a good part whereof had been repaired the last summer and the remainder thereof now this summer, being taken in hand after it had lain ruinous ever since the year 1524, that it was burnt down in Henry Lord Clifford's time, about 2 years and a little more before his death, he dying in 18 Henry VIII.  And this Brough castle and the Roman Tower in it was so well repaired by me that the 16th of September in the next year (1661) I lay there for 3 nights together, which none of my ancestors had done in 140 years till now.

Later in 1661 she wrote that on 16 September she moved from Appleby castle to Brough castle:

where I now lay for 3 nights together, the first night in that half round tower called Clifford's Tower and the other 2 nights in the second room of the great tower called the Roman Tower...

She went on to describe again the burning of the castle in 1521 (which date she calculated correctly) and its rebuilding by her since 14 or 15 April 1659.  Finally in 1662 she noted:

and this summer did I cause a kitchen, a stable, a bakehouse and a brewhouse to be built in the court of my castle at Brough in Westmorland within the walls that were lately built there by me.  The kitchen, bakehouse and brewhouse to the north and the stable to the south side thereof.

Anne was staying in Brough castle on 2 January 1666 when she recorded:

about 6 or 7 o'clock in the evening did there a great fire happen in the highest chamber but one in the great round tower... which burnt a bed and the curtains and valance and all the furniture belonging to it and a tapestry hanging that hung behind the bed.  But before it got any further hold it was by God's merciful providence discovered and quenched, so as the tower itself received no harm.  And I then lay in my own chamber in Clifford's Tower in the said castle.

Anne and her family only left the castle on 19 April 1666.  During her rebuilding of the castle she had set over the main gate a great inscribed stone which read:

This castle of Brough under Stainmore and the great tower of it, was repaired by the Lady Ann Clifford... in the year of our Lord God, 1659; so as she came to lie in it herself for a little while in September 1661, after it had lain ruinous without timber or covering, ever since the year 1521, when it was burnt by casual fire.

In 1695 Earl Thomas of Thanet sold the timber from the keep and used parts of the fortress to repair Appleby castle, while the fittings were stripped out of the houses and sold in 1714 for a total of £155.  By 1785 it was recorded that the earl had much demolished the fortress:

for the sake of the materials which have been used in building stables, garden walls and other conveniences; and particularly about the year 1763 a great part of the NE (aka SE) round tower was pulled down to repair Brough Mill, at which time the mason therein employed for the sake of the lead and iron with which it was fixed, displaced the stone which the countess of Pembroke caused to be set over the gateway...

This great stone was then used ‘under the water wheel of Brough Mill'.  Finally in 1792 the southeast corner of the keep collapsed.  This was followed in 1920 by the southwest corner.

The castle is about 280' east to west by up to 150' north to south, although around the keep it is only some 50' deep.  This Norman fortress sits on the northern portion of the Roman fort, probably with its north and east walls overlying the site of the Roman walls.  The whole is built of sandstone rubble quarried locally, as are the dressings and ashlar.  Excavation has proved that at least in parts the north wall is built on a rampart and only goes down another 2' or 3' from the current surface level.  Surrounding the whole structure is a 25' deep ditch and counterscarp.  This is most impressive to the east and west.  The ditch on the north side lies nearly 30' down the scarp towards the river and may well have been eroded by that water.

As the castle is quite small it seems best to describe it in sections, after a brief recapitulation of what is actually there.  On what is alleged to be a motte stands a tall, rectangular tower keep.  That this was not a motte has been proved by excavation, it is merely an earth covering of a masonry structure and not an artificial hill which was once the centre point of the defence like at Cardiff or Windsor.  To the east of the keep lies the wedge shaped bailey with various auxiliary buildings placed along the perimeter.  To the south lies the remains of the gatehouse, while a large round tower lay at the southeast corner of the enceinte.  It should be noted that the remaining southwestern portion of this is made of the same ‘Roman' masonry as the keep.  Therefore its ‘c.1300' date may well be hundred or more years too late.  The idea that Normans couldn't or wouldn't build round towers if they so desired should now be seen as rather dated, viz the keeps at Buckingham, Freteval and Verneuil, Normandy, as well as many other possibilities.

The earliest masonry part of Brough castle has been thought to be the herringbone masonry that can be seen in the north curtain wall and which exists under the visible ruins of the keep.  The amount of herringbone in the north wall is actually negligible and lies on top of the older curtain only in its much ruined eastern portion.  There appears to be none in the rest of the enceinte.  It has been a mantra for many years that this herringbone work must be the early Norman work, aka, William Rufus in the period 1092 to 1100.  Of course that doesn't quite jell with the history relayed above.  Further, this section of the masonry on the north wall shows this scenario to be false, the herringbone masonry would have to have been laid before the rest of the wall it lies upon or the rest of the early curtain wall must predate the herringbone part of the castle.  It is unlikely that the curtain predates the herringbone ‘tower' under the current keep due to the junction of the two around the keep.  Obviously excavation of these junctions would shine more light on the matter.

This leaves the questions of when was the 'herringbone work' under the keep built and for what purpose?  Unfortunately the excavation report of this structure in the 1920s is rather brief - as was the dig which was an emergency measure to stop further collapse of the tower.  It appears that a note on a sketch is the only verification of herringbone work.  However, what these sketches do show is a very odd construction.  This consisted of a rectangular Roman building with internal dimensions some 15' north to south by over 26' east to west - the east end of the structure was not uncovered.  On the south side the excavators found a wall 19' thick underlying the south wall of the keep and at a different angle to it of 10 degrees.  This Roman wall was still at least 7' high.  Above this lay a 15' thick wall which was claimed to be herringbone work, but faced normally.  This was also 7' tall.  Above this lay the plinthed 10' wall of the current keep, although the base of the rough plinth now lay under the current ground surface some 5' with the top over a 1' below ground.  Pits along the west wall confirmed this layout.  However, 2 internal pits, one in the southwest corner and the other at the east end of the north wall, found a different layout.  Within the tower walls a black soil at least 5' deep filled the bottom of the Roman structure to the north, but to the west this was only some 2-3' deep and lay over clay and stones which were dug into for a depth of a foot without encountering the bottom of the Roman wall.  This black soil overlay the Roman work in all the pits, which suggests a period of abandonment after the Roman walls had been stripped down to a height of their current remains.  These are over 7' high.  This layer of black soil varied over all the test pits from nothing in the northern exterior pit to slightly over 2' in the internal pit at the east end of the north wall.  Internally the black soil was overlaid with a layer of clay up to 6' deep.  Oddly only the interior pit under the east end of the north wall found a 2' thick layer of this clay between the Roman masonry and what was identified as the ‘early Norman herringbone work'.  Other oddities encountered were the fact that the current west wall of the tower lay on 5 longitudinally laid oak beams on top of the herringbone work, while the interior of the south wall extended down further than the exterior side by about 2 feet.  Further the interior of the east end of the north wall overhung the ‘early Norman work' below by some 18" which resulted in the necessity of packing this area with concrete to hold the current tower up.  Concrete reinforcement was also added under the south-west internal corner of the tower.

The only valid conclusions from this would seem to be this.  A stone Roman building occupying the northwest corner of the fort was over 45' long and 34' wide with walls 19' thick!  Such a structure would be unique and odd to say the least.  On top of this, after a period of abandonment that in places allowed 2' of soil to form, a tower with herringbone masonry, but rubble faced, was built with walls only 15' thick and dimensions only slightly smaller than the ‘Roman tower' below.  Finally, on top of this, the current tower was built, 60' by 40' externally with walls some 10' thick.  Some of the ‘herringbone' tower can be seen under the lower north face of the keep and is described below.  If this was the tower of 1174 it would appear to be a normal tower keep, that was probably partially demolished to found the basis of the new tower.  If this is so the question needs to be asked why it wasn't faced with ‘Roman' masonry like the tower above and the older parts of the enceinte?  The Roman history of the site does not seem to allow for a period of abandonment that would lead to the formation of 2' of soil.  Could the tower then be Saxon, or has the current tower been built using material, viz the Romanesque south and Anglo-Saxon west windows, taken from the demolished early tower?  Even, could these elements have been inserted by the Lady Anne's command in 1659?  Finally, the idea that the 1174 keep ‘had a stone base and a wooden superstructure' should be immediately quashed as what remains under the keep to the north is certainly no such structure.  This idea which seems to have taken hold in some quarters seems based on the false belief that only wooden towers can burn.  I suspect that anyone who has ever seen a house fire or Windsor castle burning in 1992 would disagree with this conclusion.  Further, the fact this was a royal castle from 1120/22 to 1203 would suggest that any building works would have appeared in the royal accounts which exist from 1155 onwards, with the one notable exception of the survival of the 1130 roll.  That it doesn't suggests that the keep dates from before 1155 or after 1203.  That said, Brougham keep, 20 miles to the northwest of Brough, dates from 1203 onwards and has Romanesque features in it, although the main 4 square fabric appears far more massive and substantial than the comparatively small keeps at the earlier Appleby and Brough.

One of the things missing from the castle is a well, either in the keep or the bailey.  Mitchell's 1666 plan shows a well some 30' south of the main gatehouse east wall in the middle of the castle ditch.  This probably explains the odd arrangement of Lady Anne's roof for the keep with a central gully to catch rain water.  Presumably a similar rain water catching roof was used over the hall block and Clifford Tower judging from Mitchell's plan.

The Bailey
Only 3 sections of the original bailey wall survive today.  The first section consists of the northeast corner of the castle.  This a plain rectangular angle, although the rest of the east curtain has been replaced.  The north curtain runs westwards from here for about 75' and is about 5' thick.  Half way along this there are the slight remnants of a rectangular fifteenth century buttress.  Internally are the remnants of Lady Anne Clifford's kitchen, brewhouse and bakehouse.  Mitchell's 1666 plan show these 3 chambers entered from the south by Romanesque doorways apparently similar to that found in the basement of the keep. 

Externally the curtain wall is ruined to ground level, but internally it stands some 2-3' high above the cobbled court and buildings.  Archaeological investigations in the 1920s revealed the current cobbled surface of the ward, but could not confirm a date for it, although it was noted that the ground might contain late medieval fabric as well as seventeenth century repairs.  Further excavations in 2009 found that the north curtain foundations varied from 2-3' deep under the current ground surface.  They therefore do not appear to have been built upon a Roman predecessor, but upon earth - the black soil from under the keep? - overlying those remains.

The next section of the north curtain is some 80' long and probably dates from the thirteenth century.  It has a fine sloping plinth and the remnants of a buttress half way down its course.  Internally a flight of steps ran up to the wallwalk just before the small, probably seventeenth century, rectangular garderobe beyond which is some 40' of oddly angled, probably also seventeenth century curtain wall.  There then follows some 85' of rubble curtain which appears similar to the first, early section, apart from the fact it lacks any herringbone masonry.  This ends at a near right angled corner where the curtain swings back towards the south.  After some 10' the wall ends suddenly with the northwest angle of the keep.  Possibly the wall originally ran around the outside of the keep forming a partial chemise, or it always ended here with an odd butt joint at the keep.  If this latter suggestion is true it would suggest that the wall post dates the keep.  In the short 10' section of the west curtain wall a doorway entered a passageway from the bailey which then turned some 90 degrees into a short flight of steps which run up towards the keep wall.  Possibly this was associated with the earlier tower, but more likely this led to a projecting garderobe to the west of which some foundations still seem to remain, jutting some 5' beyond the west wall of the keep.

On the other side of the keep, on the southeast angle, the curtain reappears, again at a most awkward junction.  From here it runs some 30' due east before shearing off to the southeast with another awkward angle.  This wall is badly damaged, but it appears likely that the second section was built to enlarge the original bailey whose line possibly continued due east on the line of the first wall.  In the seventeenth century Lady Anne built a stable block here which runs all the way down to the gatehouse.  If the above assumption about the expansion of the early, smaller bailey is correct, this gatehouse lies outside the line of the original castle and might be better described as a barbican, even if it is as old as the eleventh/twelfth century as is suggested by the castle guide book.  That the cobbled interior of the gatepassageway slopes towards the exterior and the ditch bottom would tend to enhance this view of the structure being a later barbican, as otherwise most normal gatepassageways are level.  Antoher oddity is that there is no trace of the south curtain meeting the current gatetower which might be expected as a gash or toothing in the wall.  Perhaps then, this face of the gatehouse has been refaced when the eastern end of the south curtain was down.

The Gatehouse
For continuities sake the suggested ‘barbican' will be described as the gatehouse it certainly later was.  Firstly it must be noted that this originally may have been a rectangular tower some 40' long by 30' wide and having walls about 6' thick.  It was probably over 40' high, a surviving fragment still reaching 35' tall.  The southern, exterior front of the gatehouse was augmented, probably in the fifteenth century, by 2 angled buttresses which the Buck print shows only rose to first floor level.  Internally the gatepassageway has been much altered over the years, but still retains the jamb and some arch stones of its inner gateway.  The remains of this show that the inner gate opened inwards into the courtyard.  Within, the passageway seems to have consisted of a ribbed vault of which traces of 5 ribs remain.  Apparently a flight of stairs originally ran up the east wall to a constables's chamber which was about 20' by 32' and had lights both front and back.  This is a somewhat similar layout to the much larger Norman gatehouse at Ludlow that was later converted into a keep.  It has been suggested that a better analogy with this ‘gatetower' is that of Egremont.  Certainly both towers were of 3 storeys, but Egremont was certainly more decorative and apparently earlier.  It also lacked mural flight of steps in the wall going up to the constable's chamber as is present at Ludlow

Normally a portcullis or drawbridge would have been operated from the constable's chamber, but there is no trace of either at Brough, although both interior walls could well have been refaced to disguise all evidence of this.  Further, recent excavation uncovered a stone structure on the south side of the ditch that was interpreted as a possible drawbridge abutment.

By comparing Buck's view with the current remains it can be seen that the gatehouse in the seventeenth century stood 3 storeys high and had the Lady Anne's inscribed stone placed immediately above the apparently Romanesque entrance, but below a rather squashed window.  Each floor was externally offset while the windows on both the upper floors were triple lighted.  The upper floor would seem to have been similar to the constable's chamber below, except it had a small window to the west with a fireplace beside it which still survive.  In Buck's print there is a chimney to the east, but this may well have been fed from the inserted fireplace in the great hall basement.

The Hall
East of the gatehouse lay the probably fourteenth century great hall which was repeatedly expanded and refashioned up until the time of Lady Anne (d.1676).  In the fifteenth century this refurbishment had involved virtually doubling the size of the structure by expansion to the north.  The original work had 3 vaults placed transversely beneath, the flat pointed arches of which suggest a fourteenth century date. These would appear to be a later insertion to give the hall above a paved floor.  This can be deduced as the vaults overlie the fenestration of the 3 basements.  The doorways to the 2 garderobes within are shoulder headed which would suggest a date within the time period 1250-1350 for these basement walls.  As the basement next to the gatehouse had a fireplace inserted in it, as well as a garderobe set in the south wall, it may have been used as a porter's lodge.  However, the central basement was also similarly converted with a fireplace.  The hall above was approached via a flight of steps at its northeast corner and was about 13' high with another set of chambers on the floor above it.  This would appear to be a latter phase of the construction again, the lower 2 storeys consisting of reasonably well laid rubble with occasional courses of reused Roman masonry.  Above this the wall is predominantly well coursed smaller pieces of rubble.

The great hall retains 2 apparently fourteenth century windows in its south wall.  These are similar and have 2 trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label.  Even though the mullions and parts of the tracery are missing it seems reasonable to date them to the early fourteenth century as has been done with the larger, but similar window in the west wall of the nave at Little Burstead, Essex, those in the tower at Thruxton, Herefordshire and the renewed east window of Broadmayne, Dorset

The Lady Anne gave an interesting account of how the castle was used in her time.  She arrived at Brough on 19 April 1672 at about 1 o'clock in the afternoon:

where in the court of it I alighted out of my litter and came upstairs into the hall where all the strangers that accompanied me took their leaves... and from thence I came upstairs into the great chamber and through it to the chamber adjoining and came into my own chamber in the Clifford's Tower where I formerly used to lie...

The Round or Clifford's Tower
There is no trace of the original or the presumed thirteenth century curtain between the gatehouse and this structure.  The Clifford Tower was massively rebuilt by Lady Anne Clifford, so there is little to be said of it's medieval predecessor other than the idea that it was part of the ‘important works' carried out by Robert Clifford during his tenure of the castle (1308-14), is supported by no evidence.  The tower was a boldly projecting D shaped structure some 30' in diameter.  The southeast portion of this has evidently been totally rebuilt with new windows, although much of this was demolished in 1763.  The 2 upper rooms seem to have been used as bedrooms for the great hall - at least in its later uses.  A spiral stair led from the southeast end of the hall, through the top of the garderobe turret, to the upper floors of the tower - the tower itself only being accessed from the gorge and not serviced by its own stairs.  A single original crossbow loop remains to the southwest on the first floor, while traces of a second one remain to the northeast.  The idea that this tower was therefore the work of the Cliffords after 1308 seems much too late and based upon the dating of the tower by its anachronistic naming as The Clifford Tower.  The same goes for the ‘fact' that Clifford rebuilt the curtain walls due to the Scottish threat.

The East Curtain
North of Clifford's Tower is the east curtain which contains a peculiar projecting spur just north of the gorge of Clifford's Tower.  This projects just one course beyond the line of the enceinte.  In this, at first floor level, is a small loop that lights an internal mural passageway in  the first floor of the north wall of the ‘fourteenth century' great hall.  North of this spur the curtain is obviously of 3 phases.  The lower half of the wall consists of reused Roman masonry above a tall, slightly sloping plinth.  Some 12' above ground level, at the base of a ‘fifteenth century' window that lit the ‘thirteenth century' chamber beyond, the wall masonry becomes more regular after a rudely laid couple of courses of the previous wall style.  Finally, on the summit, are a half dozen or so courses of a smaller masonry which overlies the projecting spur by Clifford's Tower.  Probably this lowest section of all, using Roman masonry, is of a similar date to the keep and the older section of the north wall.

This east curtain was used as the east side of the large (about 35' east to west by 60' internally), early great hall which ran from the north-east corner of the ward probably to the line of the fifteenth century inner range of the hall block.  This structure has been partly revealed by excavation in the 1970s and again suggests that the lower portion of the east curtain dates back to the foundation of the castle.  Between this great hall and the Clifford Tower lies another chamber thought to be of the same age as the curtain.  The west wall of this chamber has been built into the main hall block range of buildings between Clifford's Tower and the gatehouse.  It retains parts of a plinth on its west face within the easternmost basement of the great hall.  As there is a large fireplace in the east curtain wall at this point it is possible that this was a kitchen, set between the old hall and Clifford's Tower.  That said, this would be in an odd position, the kitchens usually being kept well away from the main accommodation and ranges due to the risk of fire.

The Keep
It is necessary to examine the keep in great detail as it is said to date to 1200 by which time such structures were largely obsolete, although the building of such structures at this late date as accommodation was not unknown, viz Dover 1170s and Brougham 1200s.  The great tower at Brough is 3 storeys high with pilaster buttresses at the corners.  Such a design tends to the period before 1150 although many date such structures up to and even into the thirteenth century.  As ever historical documents actually dating such keeps are non-existent, so we are in the realm of logic in trying to sort out the time frame of these structures.  Sadly this is usually done by finding a similarly undated tower for which the history has not been adequately researched and then saying that as both towers have superficial similarities - no 2 towers are in fact the same - they must date from the same time and a figure is plucked from the thin air to support such a supposition.  This may be a hard way to put it, but it is accurate.  If you doubt this statement then please send me original documentation to prove the founding date of a keep as I would love to see it.  Conversely if you doubt this statement please take the time to look at the assessment of documentary evidence to support the building dates of great keeps and, most importantly, the associated costs, viz. Castle Expenditure 1155-89 and its subsequent papers that take the time frame down to 1216.

The current Brough keep has been much altered over the years.  Its foundations have already been commented on.  The tower lies on a similarly shaped foundation some 7' high and 15' thick.  This has been interpreted as the keep that was burned in 1174.  As has been noted, such an interpretation poses several problems.  Above this herringbone work lies the basement of the keep which currently stands 4 storeys high.  The remains show quite obviously that this was a multiphase affair.  The basement was approximately 50' east to west by 40' north to south and had walls about 10' thick. 

As has been noted the 4 corners have clasping buttresses while the masonry consists of coursed apparently reused Roman masonry.  The first 5 courses of the south-east buttress also appears to have been nicked, although this may be related to the junction here with the south curtain wall.  The buttress above this point has also obviously been refaced with the masonry being much better cut than the original work to the west.  The south front also has a fine moulded single course plinth.  However, the height this is set at and the less even coursing of the rubble, which is not reused ‘Roman masonry' indicates that this front has been refaced at this level.  This more rubbly facing ends at first floor level.  It is also apparent that the west front of the keep has been refaced up to first floor level.  This begins with a rough stepped plinth of 2 courses, 7 courses of rubble facing, then a fine chamfered plinth course.  This front has also obviously been refaced up to first floor level.

The Basement
The original basement, some 15' high, may have been blind, but currently there is a door and an odd V shaped opening to the north with an inserted window loop, while to the west is another opening which also probably dates to the work of the Lady Anne Clifford (d.1676).  The odd, crude double internal opening to this where an embrasure should have been, is all but certainly a modern invention.  Underneath the inserted window loop to the north appears to be a portion of the 7' high foundation that underlies the tower.  The exposed portion consists of a rough rubble on the top of which are some 3 courses of stepped plinth.  This terminates to the east in an 18" projecting buttress which appears to be of a later phase and only remains 2 courses above ground level.  The northeast buttress of the current keep has a single chamfered course of plinthing, as exists on the south side and beyond the central buttress on the north side.  The ‘old work' begins just after the point where Lady Clifford's badly built ‘Romanesque' doorway is ripped through the basement wall.  It has been suggested that this marked the original entrance to the basement through a blocked mural stair from the level above which it was thought may have existed before the entrance to it was made into the current basement access to the outside.  Externally, the northwest buttress appears to have no plinth at all.

It is apparent that the north side of the keep is some 3' lower than the south side.  The east side also carries remnants of a rectangular stone forebuilding, of which only the foundations remain.  To the east this had a moulded plinth of at least 3 courses above which was a wall only some 4' thick.  Within the forebuilding is a boss of masonry which also has a single chamfered course of plinthing.  This has been added to the east side of the keep and above it was the first floor entrance into the tower.  This has subsequently collapsed leaving a 15' gap in the wall starting about 6' above current ground level.  It should be noted that internally the facing is all rubble, with no trace of the ‘Roman masonry' facing as graces the outside of the tower.  At the west end of the south wall are the rebuilt remnants of an inserted fireplace with its chimney curving up into the destroyed southwest buttress.  Remains of 2 flues can be seen in the rubble of this turret strewn down the side of the bank beneath.  The basement fireplace is undoubtedly a later insertion, probably by the Lady Anne.

First Floor
Entrance was gained to the keep at first floor level at the south end of the east wall via the destroyed forebuilding.  This led into a passageway, apparently with some kind of cupboard set in the south wall and mural stairs up to the next floor to the north.  Through the passageway was a hall about 30' by 20'.  This seems to have had 3 loops in its original plan, one in each of the other 3 walls.  That to the west has been mostly destroyed by a collapse, while that to the north retains its original Romanesque embrasure, but the window is a large, probably seventeenth century opening which has lost its central mullion.  The south embrasure and splayed rectangular window loop might just be original, even though the exterior of this front has been refaced. 

Second Floor
The second floor was reached via the mural stair next to the entrance.  This gave access to a solar with loops to the 3 points of the compass like the chamber below.  Unlike the hall below, this room, as a solar, was also equipped with a garderobe in the northwest turret and an odd L shaped chamber in the southeast turret (mostly destroyed in the 1920 collapse).  However, unlike in the hall chamber below, the north and south loops were central and opposite one another rather than being staggered.  Once again these 2 loops were different, the west loop having been largely destroyed although some trace of a possibly reset Romanesque arch remains outside.  According to Mr Clark's report of the 1880s, the west window was square headed and of Tudor date.  Buck's view may suggest that this was similar to the east window, which has now disappeared in the 1920 collapse.  It should be noted, however, that the remains of the other 2 western loops show that the jambs consisted of Saxon long and short work!  It would therefore appear, as such is lacking on the more original north and south loops, that these features belong largely to the work of the Lady Anne, otherwise they would appear to be pre-1066!  The north window consists of a fine chamfered doubled light with Romanesque styling set in a chamfered reset.  The whole odd structure could well be the work of Lady Anne trying to give these large windows a ‘Norman' effect - certainly the windows themselves bear comparison with those in the east end of Alnmouth chapel.  Conversely the south window is set in a smaller Romanesque embrasure, but has a fine Romanesque double arched exterior with 2 rectangular windows within.  The style is crude and would not appear out of place in Saxon churches like Barton on Humber, Bywel St Andrew, Deerhurst, Earls Barton, Jarrow or Monkwearmouth.  It always amuses me when I see this window described as a ‘late Norman window' of c.1200.  It is sad that it should have to be pointed out that the Norman period actually ended in 1135 with the death of King Henry I (1100-35), although it can be argued that the period continued until the death of King Stephen of Blois, the son of the Norman William the Conqueror's daughter, in 1154.  After this came the Angevin period from 1154 which is usually named the Plantagenet period, although this name too is anachronistic.

The first floor level is also marked by a chamfered external offset.  A much more pronounced offset marks the top of this floor.  This is also distinguished by a change in style and masonry which is most noticeable to the north and south where central clasping buttress have been added to the design.  Quite clearly these first 3 chambers, basement, hall and solar, were the extent of the original keep.

Third Floor
The added third floor was reached via a spiral staircase set in the north-east turret.  This extra room had central windows to east and west set just under the crease of the original high pitched roof.  There was also a small fireplace added in the west wall.  The pitched roof crease is clearly visible in the north and south walls.  About 6' above the flat roof crease in the north and south walls are a row of corbels.  These would seem to mark the level of the final, flat roof of the tower.  Probably this is synonymous with the roof the Lady Anne Clifford built.  This had a central gutter, perhaps intended to collect rainwater and may well have been constructed at the time of the insertion of the 2 windows at this level.  The appearance of this roof is known from a crude drawing made by the antiquary Thomas Machell (1648-98) in his 6 volume work.  In 1660 he thought the roof was designed ‘in a quite contrary way'.  Further his sketch seems to show another plaque above the pointed first floor east entrance to the keep.

Overall, the flooring of the tower appears unsatisfactory.  Set in the south wall are 2 normal sets of joist holes for the first and second floors.  However, in the north wall there are only 3 corresponding holes at the east end of the wall at second floor level.  This shows that the interior of the entire north wall has been refaced in modern times, apparently after the tower was abandoned and defloored, otherwise it would be impossible for the floors to stay in position without a ledge or joist holes for the beams to balance upon.

Buck and Hooper's prints of 1739 and 1772 have the keep still intact and show that the forebuilding was already gone, the tower being entered through a Romanesque doorway, that would appear to have been the work of Lady Anne.  The 3 windows above were shown to be double with the top storey window being the same size as the large north window.  There was also a doorway from the top of the spiral stair in the northeast turret leading southwards onto the battlements of which only the fragments of the 3 remaining turrets now survive.


Copyright©2023 Paul Martin Remfry