Bristol Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte Ringwork), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry footings remains

NameBristol Castle
Alternative NamesBristowe
Historic CountryGloucestershire
Modern AuthorityBristol; City of
1974 AuthorityAvon
Civil ParishBristol

A castle built before 1088 AD by Geoffrey, Bishop of Coutances and consisting of a ring-ditch and bank was followed by a motte which used the ring-work as an outer bailey. The motte was demolished by Robert of Gloucester (d 1147) to make way for the Keep which succeeded it and in 1173 the castle was acquired by Henry II to become one of the foremost royal castles in England; a major fortress, a political prison and administrative centre. The upper or outer ward of the castle stood on the side towards the city and contained, in addition to the Keep, the constable's house, which stood on the south side of the Keep, and the Chapel of St Martin, mentioned circa 1250, which may have stood to the north of the Keep. The inner ward was the larger of the two wards and contained the banqueting hall. The 13th century was the main period of building, and extensive records exist of repairs and maintenance but by 1486, when William of Worcester wrote of it, the buildings had fallen into decay. By Leland's time, although the keep and other towers were still standing, all tended to ruin. Refortification followed during the Civil War but the castle was later demolished at Cromwell's order and Millerd's map of 1673 shows the site completely built over (Little 1967; Leland; Ponsford; Lobel).

During the Anarchy, Bristol was the stronghold of Robert, Earl of Gloucester, and Matilda's champion. Only in 1174 did it become a royal possession, and from then onward was one of the 4 principle royal castles, ranking alongside Newcastle, Nottingham and Winchester as a fortress, prison and administrative centre (HKW). (PastScape)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceST592731
Latitude51.4559288024902
Longitude-2.58836007118225
Eastings359220
Northings173150
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Books

  • Keith D Lilley, 2017, 'The Norman Conquest and its influences on urban landscapes' in Dawn M Hadley and Christopher Dyer, The Archaeology of the 11th Century Continuities and Transformations (Routledge) p. 30-56
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 115, 187
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 328
  • Fleming, P., 2004, Bristol Castle: a political history (Bristol)
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Gloucestershire and Bristol (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 18-19
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 79
  • Leech, R.H., 1989, 'Aspects of the medieval defences of Bristol: the town wall, the castle barbican and the Jewry' in Bowden, M., Mackay, D. and Topping, P. (eds), From Cornwall to Caithness: some aspects of British field Archaeology. Papers presented to Norman V Quinnell (Oxford: British Archaeological Reports British Series 209) p. 235-50
  • Leech, R.H., 1989, 'Aspects of the medieval defences of Bristol: the town wall, the castle barbican and the Jewry' in Bowden, M. and Sharp, M. (ed), 1982, Accounts of the constables of Bristol Castle in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries (Bristol: Bristol Record Society 34)
  • Drage, C., 1987, 'Urban castles' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 117-32 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 181
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 194-5
  • Gomme, A., Jenner, M. and Little, B.., 1979, Bristol, An Architectural History (Bristol) p. 12
  • Lobel, M.D. and Carus-Wilson, E.M., 1975, 'Bristol' in Lobel, M.D. (ed) The Atlas of Historic Towns Vol. 2 (London: Scolar Press/Historic Towns Trust) online copy
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 117-8, 353
  • Ponsford, M.W., 1971, Bristol Castle: a short summary of the recent excavations (Bristol: City Museum)
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 577-82
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 52
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 110-2 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 47-51 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 1 (London) p. 544-5 online copy
  • Seyer, 1821, Memoirs History and Topography of Bristol (Bristol) Vol. 1 p. 370-96

Antiquarian

  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 178-9, 188, 193-4
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 87 online copy
  • Jacabus Millerd's Plan of Bristol 1673
  • Celia Fiennes, 1888, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (London: Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press) Vision of Britain online transcription

Journals

  • Richard Nevell, 2014-15, 'Castles as prisons' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 203-224
  • Manco, Jean, 2005 March, 'The Impregnable City' Bristol Magazine online copy (Bristol in The Anarchy)
  • Howes, Russell, 2002, 'The Medieval Sieges of Gloucester, 1263-65 (Barons' War)' Glevensis Vol. 35 p. 21 online copy
  • Walker, D., 1991, 'Gloucestershire Castles' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 109 p. 5-23 online copy
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 311, 314
  • Youngs, S.M. and Clark, J., 1981, 'Medieval Britain in 1980' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 25 p. 205 download copy
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1977, 'Medieval Britain in 1976' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 21 p. 242 download copy
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1976, 'Medieval Britain in 1975' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 20 p. 187 download copy
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • 1971, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 15 p. 146-7 download copy
  • 1970, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 14 p. 156, 176 download copy
  • 1970, CBA Groups 12/13 Archaeological Review
  • (Ponsford), 1969, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 13 p. 255-8 online copy
  • 196?, Bristol Archaeological Research Group Bulletin Vol. 3
  • 1968, CBA Groups 12/13 Archaeological Review
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1955, 'Royal Castle-building in England 1154-1216' English Historical Review Vol. 70 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)) p. 19-64
  • Marshall, K., 1951, 'Excavations in the city of Bristol 1948-51' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 70 p. 5-30 online copy
  • Pritchard, J.E., 1929, 'Bristol Archaeological Notes' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 51 p. 231-4 online copy
  • Maclean, J., 1890-91, 'Notes on Some of the Constables of Bristol Castle and Town' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 15 p. 187-9 online copy
  • Swayne, S.H., 1879-80, ' On the Recent Discovery of Remains of the Foundations of the Keep of Bristol Castle and of the Ancient Wells adjacent, with Notes of the Contents of one of the Wells.' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 4 p. 329-332 online copy
  • Nicholls, J.F., 1878-79, 'Bristol Castle' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 3 p. 185-192 online copy
  • Pritchard, J.E., Proceedings of Clifton Antiquarian Club Vol. 4 p. 17-19

Primary Sources

  • Ingram, James, (ed) 1912, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Everyman Press, London) Laud Chronicle AD1088; Laud AD1126 view online transcription (Ingram's translation and notes date from 1823. More recent translations of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles should be consulted for serious study)
  • Sewell, R.C. (ed), 1846, Gesta Stephani, Regis Anglorum et Ducis Normannorum p. 42 online copy (The newer edition and translation by Potter, K.R. (ed), 1976 (2edn), Gesta Stephani (Oxford University Press) should be consulted for serious study. See also Speight, S., 2000, 'Castle Warfare in the Gesta Stephani' , Château Gaillard Vol. 19 [see online transcription > http://web.archive.org/web/20101229213751/http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/articles/speight.htm])
  • Hinde, Hodgson, (ed.), 1868, Symeonis Dunelmensis Opera et Collectanea (Durham: Surtees Society) Vol. 2 p. 215
  • Dugdale, William (Caley, J., Ellis, H. and Bandinel, B. (eds)), 1817-30 (originally pub. 1655-73), Monasticon Anglicanum (London) Vol. 2 p. 61 online copy
  • Wright, W.A. (ed), 1887, The Metrical Chronicle of Robert of Gloucester (London: HMSO) Vol. 2 p. 655, 658, 849 online copy
  • Pipe Rolls from 1173 (see Pipe Roll Society for published references)
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 2 p. 423 (in Somerset) online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1913, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1266-72) Vol. 6 p. 59 (An order to use the town's murage to repair the castle) online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 218-20
  • 1982, Accounts of the constables of Bristol Castle in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries (Bristol: Bristol Record Society 34) online copy
  • Neale, Frances (ed), 2000, William Worcestre: The Topography of Medieval Bristol (Bristol Record Society 51) p. 396, 422 online preview (not with the detailed castle description of 1480)
  • Harvey, J.H. (ed), 1969, Itineraries (of) William Worcestre (Clarendon Press) p. 399-406
  • C47/3/7(1) (Survey of 1265) The National Archives reference
  • E178/3871 (Survey of 22 James I) The National Archives reference

Other

  • Fradley, Michael, 2011, The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) available via EThOS
  • Ponsford, M.W., 1979, Bristol Castle (M. Litt. thesis, Bristol)