Berkeley Castle

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

There are major building remains

NameBerkeley Castle
Alternative NamesSharpness; Ness; Betthone; Berkelai; Barkley; Berkley
Historic CountryGloucestershire
Modern AuthorityGloucestershire
1974 AuthorityGloucestershire
Civil ParishBerkeley

Castle keep, with curtain wall and inner bailey. Late C11, altered mid C12 and mid C14. Original circular keep to north west begun cl067 by Fitz Osborn, Earl of Hereford, with base of shell keep remaining of this period. Shell keep enlarged 1153, Curtain wall to east and south built 1160-90, including walls of Great Hall, and altered to south west in C14. The whole castle is in an original and good state of preservation and retains most original features down to doors, arrow slits and windows, iron catches etc. Interior completely remodelled 1340-50 by Thomas, Lord Berkeley, although the work of this period only survives in the inner bailey. Remained largely unaltered until 1920s when 8th Earl of Berkeley modernised and altered the interior and installed many artefacts from elswhere, for example fireplaces, stained glass. Local pink, grey and yellow Severn sandstone, roofs mainly in Cotswold stone slate or lead, scattered ashlar flues, singly and in groups, cylindrical or polygonal. Scattered fenestration, mostly stone mullion and transoms, some latticed. Keep retains cell said to have been site of murder of Edward II in 1327, and semi-circular dungeon about llm deep. Wall breached to north west in 1645 during siege by Cromwell's troops. Curtain wall includes the following main rooms: Great Hall, with mid C14 ceiling of 8 bays and tiered windbracing, wooden screen of C15 brought from Wales in 1920s and retaining original painted decoration, C15 stone fireplace said to have come from Wanswell Court (q.v.), very fine examples of linen- fold panelling on oak doors, and several examples of the "Berkeley Arch" - polygonal with 4 or more straight sides enclosing a cusped inner arch. Hall said to have been site of meeting of West Country Barons before going to Runnymede to sign Magna Carta

Screens passage at east end has 3 Berkeley arches and leads to service area retaining hexagonal kitchen with 3 fireplaces and original medieval star timber roof, and Bakehouse spanned by 2 large flat stone arches; upstairs the Morning Room, former Chapel of St. Mary until 1923, has cusped arcades and retains painted ceiling decoration of John Trevisa's 1387 translation of Book of Revelation; Long Drawing Room, containing C15 wooden gallery originally in Chapel with projecting bay carved with arms of Henry VII; Little Drawing Room, originally accessible from Long Drawing Room only via projecting octagonal lobby on inner wall, has very fine ceiling of many closely set large chamfered cambered beams. Private apartments of Berkeley family beyond, round to gatehouse adjoining Keep on west side. (Listed Building Report)

Late 11th century castle rebuilt in the mid 12th century with 13th century and mid 14th century alterations. Excavations in 1938 have located much of the castle's layout including walls and buildings. Castle keep, with curtain wall and inner bailey. Late 11th century, altered mid 12th century and mid 14th century . Original circular keep to north west begun circa 1067 by Fitz Osborn, Earl of Hereford, with base of shell keep remaining of this period. Shell keep enlarged 1153, Curtain wall to east and south built 1160-90, including walls of Great Hall, and altered to south west in 14th century . The whole castle is in an original and good state of preservation and retains most original features down to doors, arrow slits and windows, iron catches etc. Interior completely remodelled 1340-50 by Thomas, Lord Berkeley, although the work of this period only survives in the inner bailey. Remained largely unaltered until 1920s when 8th Earl of Berkeley modernised and altered the interior and installed many artefacts from elsewhere, for example fireplaces, stained glass. Local pink, grey and yellow Severn sandstone. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

The surrounding medieval water features have now been lost but would have produced, as at a number of other castle sites, a very impressive vista.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceST685989
Latitude51.6887016296387
Longitude-2.45688009262085
Eastings368520
Northings198900
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Christopher Price All Rights Reserved
Copyright Christopher Price All Rights Reserved
Copyright Kathryn Yengel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Kathryn Yengel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Kathryn Yengel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Kathryn Yengel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Kathryn Yengel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Kathryn Yengel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Kathryn Yengel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Kathryn Yengel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Kathryn Yengel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Kathryn Yengel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Kathryn Yengel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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Books

  • < >Higham, Robert, 2015, Shell-keeps re-visited: the bailey on the motte? (Castle Studies Group - online publication) online copy < >
  • Wells-Furby, B., 2012, The Berkeley Estate 1281-1417: its economy and development (The Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Monograph 1)
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) passim
  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 58-67 (plans)
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Gloucestershire and Bristol (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 10-15
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 77-8
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 50-2
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 180
  • Verey, David, 1980, Buildings of England: - Gloucestershire: the Vale and Forest of Dean
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 187
  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1975, The history of the King's Works Vol. 3: 1485-1660 (part 1) p. 232-3
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 107-109
  • Toy, Sidney, 1953, The Castles of Great Britain (Heinemann) p. 66
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 84-8
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 103-5 online copy
  • Evans, Herbert A., 1912, Castles of England and Wales (London) p. 151-60
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Bazeley, 1911, in Ditchfield, Memorials of Old Gloucestershire (London) p. 77-87
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 368-72 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1884, Mediaeval Military Architecture in England (Wyman and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 228-39 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 457-60 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 253-6 online copy
  • Lysons, 1803, Ancient Gloucestershire (London) plates CI-CV
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 97

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. 186
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 101 online copy

Journals

  • Prior, S. and Horton, M., 2015, 'Recapturing Berkeley Castle. One trench: 1,500 years of English history' Current Archaeology Vol. 26: 5, issue 305 p. 38-45
  • Richard Nevell, 2014-15, 'Castles as prisons' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 203-224
  • Neil, Guy, 2014 Sept, 'The Berkeley Castle Shell Keep' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 18 p. 18-21
  • Mesqui, Jean, Renn, Derek and Smals Laurens, 2008, ''The Portcullis in Medieval Great Towers: An Impression' Château Gaillard Vol. 23 p. 289-95
  • Coulson, C., 1994, 'Freedom to Crenellate by Licence - An Historiographical Revision' Nottingham Medieval Studies Vol. 38 p. 104n50
  • Harfield, C.G., 1991, 'A Hand-list of Castles Recorded in the Domesday Book' English Historical Review Vol. 106 p. 371-392 view online copy (subscription required)
  • 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. 312, 314
  • Rawes, B., 1977, 'A Check List of Castles and other Fortified Sites of Medieval Date in Gloucestershire' Glevensis Vol. 11 p. 39-41 online copy
  • King, D.J.Cathcart, 1972, 'The Field Archaeology of mottes; Eine kurze übersicht' Château Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 101-112
  • Faulkner, P.A., 1965, 'Sudeley Castle; Berkeley Castle; Beverstone Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 122 p. 197-200
  • Renn, D.F., 1964, 'The first Norman Castles in England 1051-1071' Château Gaillard Vol. 1 p. 125-132
  • 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)
  • Hussey, C., 1955, Country Life Vol. 118 p. 1430-3
  • Smith, W.J., 1952, 'The Rise of the Berkeleys: An Account of the Berkeleys of Berkeley Castle, 1243-1361, Part II: (i) The Berkeley Lands, (ii) The Berkeleys as Local Magnates' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 71 p. 101-121 online copy
  • Smith, W.J., 1951, 'TThe Rise of the Berkeleys: An Account of the Berkeleys of Berkeley Castle, 1243, 1361, Part I' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 70 p. 64-80 online copy
  • Earl Berkeley, 1938, 'Excavations at Berkeley Castle' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 60 p. 308-39 online copy
  • Hussey, C., 1932 June, Country Life Vol. 71 p. 626-33, 668-74, 694-700
  • Hamilton Thompson, 1930, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 87 p. 452 (plan) online copy
  • Earl Berkeley, 1927, 'Paper on Berkeley castle' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 49 p. 183-93 (a critical riposte and correction of Baddeley's article) online copy
  • Baddeley, W. St. Clair, 1926, 'Berkeley Castle' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 48 p. 133-79 (plan) online copy
  • Baddeley, W. St. Clair, 1916, Country Life Vol. 40 p. 126-32, 154-60
  • Armitage, E., 1904 April, 'The Early Norman Castles of England' English Historical Review Vol. 19 p. 209-245, 417-455 esp. 214-6 online copy
  • 1904, Country Life Vol. 15 p. 126-35
  • Hope, W.H.St J., 1903, 'English Fortresses and Castles of the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 60 p. 86 online copy
  • Veal, T., 1894-95, 'The Domestic Life of Berkeley Castle' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 19 p. 85-104 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 204 online copy
  • Clark, G. T., 1876, 'Berkeley Castle' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 1 p. 115-146 (Reprinted in MMA) online copy
  • W.D., 1873, The Antiquary Vol. 3 p. 157-60

Guide Books

  • Sackville West, V., 1997, Berkeley Castle; Great Houses Series (Heritage House Group)
  • Sackville West, V., 1990, Berkeley Castle; An Illustrated Survey (English Life Publications)

Primary Sources

  • 1086, Domesday Book 1,19 online copy
  • Cronne, H.A. and Davis, R.H.C. (eds), 1968, Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum Vol. 3 p. 117 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. 216-7
  • The Berkeley family archive contains considerable medieval records see Wells-Furby, B., 2004, A Catalogue of the Medieval Muniments at Berkeley Castle (The Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Record series 17 and 18) (2 vols) online information

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
  • Matthew Tilley, Tim Grubb, 2008, Extensive Urban Survey - Gloucestershire Download copy
  • Prior, Stuart, 2006, Archaeological Excavation and Earthwork Survey in the Butterfly Garden, Castle Moat and Water Meadow, Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, 2005 (Unpublished excavation report. Bristol: University of Bristol)