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The remains of a major medieval fortress with a River side setting. Also visible are the earthworks associated with a Roman Fort although this was constructed in the adjacent field with no direct public access to the remains; the stone of that fort was used to constructed the medieval castle.

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Castle is owned by English Heritage.

Roman Fort. The Romans constructed a fort called Brocavum in the late first century and the site seems to have been occupied for the bulk of the second and third centuries AD. The stone from the Roman fort was recycled and re-used in Brougham Castle.


1.  Lady Anne Clifford also made significant restorations efforts at Appleby, Skipton and Brough Castles.


Postcode: CA10 2AA

Lat/Long:  54.654024N 2.71886W

Notes:  Located just off the A66 about a mile from Junction 40 on the M6, Brougham Castle is easy to find. On-road parking is possible in vicinity.

England > North West BROUGHAM CASTLE

Originally the site of a Roman Fort positioned to secure routes through the Pennines and Lake District, Brougham Castle was built to ensure northern support for King John. Its importance bolstered by the Wars of Scottish Independence, it later was confiscated following the Clifford families involvement in the Wars of the Roses.


The Romans built a fort at Brougham called Brocavum at a junction where multiple Roman roads (leading to Carlisle, York, Ravenglass and Lancaster) converged as well as being positioned at the confluence of the Rivers Eamont and Lowther. Like nearby Brough it was probably established around AD 79-80 as General Cnaeus Julius Agricola completed the conquest of the north and military encirclement of the troublesome Pennine region. The period the fort was occupied for is uncertain - artefact finds suggest a timeline extending to the third century AD and the presence of a smaller fortlet discovered nearby suggest the substantive fort was replaced in the later years of the Roman occupation of Britain.

Although a settlement grew up around the fort, which seemingly endured after the Roman withdrawal in the fifth century AD, no further fortifications are known until the thirteenth century; the nearby castles of Appleby and Brough catered for the defensive needs of the area. However in 1203, during the turbulent reign of King John, the Barony of Westmorland was granted to Robert de Vieuxpont. The northern Barons were broadly discontented with John's rule and the appointment of Robert, one of his key supporters, was designed to help defuse this perceived threat. To cement his control over the region Robert commenced construction of Brougham Castle in a corner of the old Brocavum fort re-using much of the stone in his new structure.

In 1269 the castle passed through marriage to the Clifford family who made upgrades to the structure. The outer defences, initially earthworks supplemented by a timber palisade, was replaced with a stone wall and the impressive gatehouse complex was also added. The upgrades were well timed as in 1296 Edward I of England started the Wars of Scottish Independence; the then owner, Robert Clifford, used Brougham as a base and even hosted King Edward himself at the castle. In 1388 it was sacked and heavily damaged in a Scottish raid.

During the Wars of the Roses the Clifford family was staunchly Lancastrian. Thomas Clifford was killed in the first Battle of St Albans (1455) and John Clifford in 1461 both fighting for Henry VI. The Clifford estates, including Brougham, were confiscated by the regime of the Yorkist King Edward IV but were restored following the Battle of Bosworth Field (1485). The Tudor era did was not kind to the castle however - the Cliffords’ return to national politics led them to be increasingly absent from their northern properties and although it hosted a Royal visit by James I in 1617, it was in a poor state of repair. This prevented it taking any significant part in the Civil War and, despite the enthusiastic restoration efforts of Lady Anne Clifford in the mid seventeenth century, the property was allowed to drift into ruin; her descendant Thomas Tufton, Earl of Thanet consolidated his interests into Appleby Castle only.  In 1928 the castle was put into the hands of the Ministry of Works.

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