Westmorland Road Trip: Pt 3 – Brough Castle

Our next stop was the town of Brough, around ten miles from Appleby, and we pulled up near the impressive ruins of Brough Castle.


Status: Eden District, Cumbria (Historically Westmorland), Village, England

Date: 26/05/2014

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Brough Castle


Walking up to the Castle, we were struck by the incredible silhouette it cast on the landscape. There are three main sections of the Castle remaining:

1) The Square Tower

2) Exterior End Wall

3) Interior Wall Foundations.

The Castle is completely free to enter, so we set out to explore, starting with the foundations around the main exterior wall. This towering scheduled monuments has it’s origins in the 11th century, when it was built on the site of the former Roman Fort, Verterae that was abandoned in the 5th century. Brough Castle was built by William Rufus (1056 – 1100), the son of William the Conqueror (1028 – 1087, first Norman King of England) after he invaded in 1091, with a Motte and Bailey design (containing a keep made out of wood or stone on a motte). This version of the Castle was destroyed in an attack by the Scottish in 1174, and later rebuilt.


These sections of the Castle were part of the Inner and Outer Ranges, whilst directly opposite, off to the left out of shot the Kitchen, Bakehouse and Brewery were separated from the Ranges by a large hall that was built in the 12th century. A lot of the stone portions of the Castle were built during the rebuild, as the older wooden sections were rebuilt in stone to give it greater protection. The owner by now was Robert de Vieuxpont who was gifted the Castle by King John in 1203, along with nearby Appleby Castle.


The stand out feature of the ruins is Cliffords Tower, which was added after the Clifford Family took possession sometime around the 1260’s.


The Tower is incredible, and you can go inside and gaze up at the empty walls. There are steps at the top, however the gate to these was locked when we visited, and it could be a seasonal thing or it has been closed due to structural reasons.

Brough 6

Either way, it’s a shame as the view across the valleys is stunning enough from the base of the Castle, so it must be amazing from the top of the Tower.

The Cliffords added a lot of fortifications to the overall structure, but would go on to accidentally destroy the whole Castle in 1521, when Henry Clifford (1454 – 1523) had an incident during a Christmas Dinner. He died not long afterwards, just 2 years later.

If you have read my Appleby post, I talk a lot about Lady Anne Clifford, an important figure in the area and it’s history. She restored Brough Castle, and also owned Appley Castle, After all her work the Castle was fully restored and habitable, and Clifford’s Tower became apartments. Sadly there was a second fire, in 1666 and the Castle was again destroyed. Anne died 10 years later, with the Castle abandoned.

Anne’s daughter, Margaret soon got married to John Tufton (1608 – 1664). John’s son, called Thomas, removed many of the furnishings and sold them in 1714 to help rebuild parts of Appleby Castle, and by 1763 most of the stone in the Tower was removed and put to use restoring Brough Mill.


Looking past Cliffords Tower, some large sections of the wall are lying on the grass below. It was noted that  the South-West corner partially collapsed in 1800, with more following in 1920, so I assume they are mean this section.

Today the Castle is owned by English Heritage and restoration work is regularly carried out, along with archaeological works around the site, most recently in 2009. Visitors are allowed to freely visit the whole site, and there is a small coffee and ice cream shop sat just opposite it, the perfect place to relax and sight see. The river Eden winds its way through the valley below, through to Carlisle and eventually close to Gretna where it runs out into the Solway Firth.

After exploring this beautiful old Castle we moved on, to the village of Shap, and it’s fantastic ruined Abbey…

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