High Head Castle

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are no visible remains

NameHigh Head Castle
Alternative NamesHighhead; Heyheved; Hehed; Heighheved; Heghaved; Hyghett; Highened; Highed; Highyate; Hegatcastle; Highgate
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishSkelton

High Head house was rebuilt 1748 for H Richmond Brougham incorporating C16 work. It is on the site of timber pele extant in 1317 replaced by a stone curtain wall and gatehouse in 1342 when a licence was granted to crenellate. Nothing of C14 castle survives, and there are no earthworks associated with it. A hall was built in 1550 and rebuilt in 1748. Burnt in 1956 and since a ruin. (PastScape)

Highhead Castle was founded about 1326, and a licence to crenellate was granted in 1342. In 1550 a Hall, 52' x 26', was built on the west side. From 1744 to 1748 the Castle was demolished and rebuilt, and in 1800 further restorations took place (Curwen).

Nothing of the 14th century castle survives, and there are no earthworks associated with it. Part of the Hall is incorporated into the west side of the main 18th century range, the whole of which is derelict. The gate is modern (F1 RE 03-NOV-70).

High Head Castle - building now completely derelict - the roof has fallen in but the walls still stand to roof level however the building is in a dangerous state of repair. (PastScape)

Country house in ruins, built on the site of a medieval castle. 1744-7, probably by James Gibbs for the Brougham family, partly destroyed by fire 1956. Red sandstone ashlar with string course, eaves modillions, open balustraded parapet and V-jointed quoins. Roofless but with banded ashlar sandstone chimney stacks. 2 storeys, 11 bays. Projecting pedimented 3-bay centre, with carved ornament in pediment, has central door in alternate-block surround with entablature and pediment. Stone window architraves. Return and rear walls are partly in ruins. Interior completely gutted. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The form of the C14 licenced house is not known but was contained within a curtain wall with a gatehouse.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

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 ReferenceNY402433
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  • Grimsditch, Brian, Nevell, Michael and Nevell, Richard, 2012, Buckton Castle and the Castles of the North West England (University of Salford Archaeological Monograph 2) p. 108
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  • Thomas, M., 1992, A History of Brougham Hall and High Head Castle (Chichester: Phillimore & Co)
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  • 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. 97
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  • 20-1-1984; 3-2-1985; 23-1-1987; 20-10-1989, Cumberland News
  • Lowther Bouch, C.M., 1948, 'The origin and early pedigree of the Lowther family' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 48 p. 122-3 online copy
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Primary Sources

  • 1916, Calendar of inquisitions miscellaneous (Chancery) Vol. 2 (1307-49) (London: HMSO)
  • Inquisitions ad quod damnum C143/199/16 The National Archive
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1900, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1340-43) Vol. 5 p. 536 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. 155


  • Historic England, 2016, Heritage at Risk North West Register 2016 (London: Historic England) p. 19 online copy
  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk North West Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 21 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 22 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 22 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 36 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 34 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 32 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 40 online copy