Brockhurst Castle, Church Stretton

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

There are earthwork remains

NameBrockhurst Castle, Church Stretton
Alternative NamesBrocards; Strettondale; Stratton; Stretton-en-le-dale
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishChurch Stretton

Although no trace of the tower keep survives above ground, Brockhurst Castle provides a good example of the earthwork elements of castles of this class. The defensive enclosure which would have surrounded the keep survives intact as the northern ward or inner bailey of the castle. The southern attached enclosure or outer bailey, separated from the keep by a defensive ditch, also survives intact. Small scale excavations in 1959 of a section of the ditch between the two baileys and a small area of the southern outer ward revealed the existence of substantial buried structures in this area. Finds made at the same time clearly demonstrate that archaeological material will survive in the interior of the castle. Environmental evidence relating to the economy of the castle and the landscape in which it was built will be preserved beneath the banks and in the ditch fills. Such tower keep castles are rare in Shropshire and where they do exist are often modified from their original form into more complex castles. The short duration of the life of Brockhurst Castle, abandoned after only 100 years, has preserved the castle in its original form, so providing valuable information concerning military architecture in the early medieval period. The short duration of occupation represented in the archaeological record will also provide a very clear picture of the function, organisation and life of the community which inhabited the castle during this period.

The monument includes the remains of Brockhurst Castle and an associated causeway. The castle is believed to be the remains of a tower keep castle, built around 1154 by Henry II to guard the main north to south route through Shropshire where it passes through the Church Stretton valley. It is situated in a naturally defensive position on the southern tip of a small north-south ridge, overlooking the once marshy floor of Stretton Dale to the south and west

By 1215 the custody of the castle was in dispute and as a result it seems to have been slighted and deserted shortly after this date. Although the castle is believed to have been a tower keep fortification originally, all that remains visible today are the earthwork elements of the castle. These comprise two plateau-like wards or baileys separated by a ditch. Surrounding both baileys is a formidable defensive ditch averaging 8m wide and 2.6m deep. This is augmented around the south west, west and north west sides by a substantial outer bank, up to 10m wide and 3.5m high on its outer face, 1.4m high on its inner face. The outer ditch has been cut around the end of the natural spur, on average 6m below the levelled summit, creating the two plateau-like wards of the castle, the spoil from the ditch being thrown outwards to form the counterscarp bank. The northern bailey is the smaller of the two with internal dimensions of 44m north west to south east by 28m north east to south west. The levelled interior stands 5m above the base of the outer ditch and is bounded around its north and west sides by a well defined inner bank 0.7m high running along the edge of the main scarp. This is interrupted at the northern corner of the bailey by a simple entrance gap 2m wide, the outer ditch is similarly interrupted at this point by an original causeway which is approached by a trackway which climbs the hill from the north west. Terraced 0.2m into the south east corner of the bailey is a rectangular platform 7m square, this may represent the foundations of an original building. In the northern quarter of the bailey, cut into the face of the inner bank, are the remains of a trench 4m long by 2m wide, it may date from an archaeological exploration of the monument undertaken in 1959. The second bailey lies to the immediate south west, separated from the northern bailey by a substantial ditch 14m wide and 3m deep cut across the line of the natural spur. Excavation in 1959 demonstrated that the southern bailey was defended along this north western edge by a massive stone wall, the stone from which had been largely robbed away. Today a small section of the wall protrudes through the turf towards the top of the bailey scarp. A posthole near its base suggested that the ditch had originally been crossed at this point by a wooden bridge, linking the two baileys. A low causeway crossing the ditch here is therefore thought to be more recent. The levelled interior of the second bailey measures 53m south west to north east by 40m north west to south east. Today it shows no visible evidence of any structures; however, the 1959 excavation revealed it to have once had a stone curtain wall identified as dating from c.1154 with internal wooden buildings dated to c.1214. (Scheduling Report)

By the mid 12th century there was a royal castle on Brockhurst hill, defended by steep slopes and streams and marshes on the west and south; its keepers were paid out of the manorial revenues. It was possibly destroyed in the earlier 13th century and not rebuilt in consequence of Hubert de Burgh's construction of the new castle at Montgomery. In the 1890s there were still some remains of stonework lying about the earthworks, possibly part of the massive stone wall that had once defended the inner bailey. (VCH)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSO446925
Latitude52.5279998779297
Longitude-2.81729006767273
Eastings344650
Northings292550
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Duckers, Peter and Anne, 2006, Castles of Shropshire (Stroud: Tempus) p. 34-6
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 27
  • Currie, C.R.J., 1998, VCH Shropshire Vol. 10 p. 72- online transcription
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 219 (slight)
  • Jackson, M.J.,1988, Castles of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Libraries) p. 7-8
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 423
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 209
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 143
  • 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. 614
  • Wall (after Downham), 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Shropshire Vol. 1 p. 353, 393 (plan)
  • Cobbold, E.S., 1904, in Campbell-Hyslop and Cobbold (eds), Church Stretton: Some Results of Local Scientific Research (Shrewsbury) Vol. 3 p. 83-8 (plan)
  • Anderson, J.C., 1864 (2edn 1972), Shropshire, Its Early History and Antiquities p. 205
  • Eyton, R.W., 1860, Antiquities of Shropshire (London) Vol. 12 p. 18-23 (history only) online copy

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • Barker, P.A., 1961-4, 'A Pottery Sequence from Brockhurst Castle, Church Stretton, 1959' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 57 p. 63-80
  • 1960, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 4 p. 155 download copy
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 112 p. 77-124
  • 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)
  • Phillips, 1894, 'Brockhurst Castle' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Club p. 223-5
  • 1892, Shropshire Notes and Queries Vol. 1 p. 73
  • 1892, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 4 p. 302
  • 1888, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 1 p. 68,173
  • Eyton, R.W., 1887, 'The castles of Shropshire' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 10 p. 31-2

Primary Sources

  • Pipe Rolls 1156-1207, 1212 (see Pipe Roll Society for published references)
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1835, Rotuli litterarm patentium in Turri londinensi asservati (Record Commission) p. 151b (1215) online copy
  • Illingworth, W. (ed), 1818, Rotuli hundredorum temp. Hen. III et Edw. I (London: Record Commission) Vol. 2 p. 84 (Extinct in 1255) online copy

Other

  • English Heritage, 1994, Scheduling Papers (Revision, 14/12/1994)
  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1986, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 30654 (05/06/1986)
  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1987, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 32138 (24/02/1987)