Brandon Castle

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

There are earthwork remains

NameBrandon Castle
Alternative NamesBrandun'
Historic CountryWarwickshire
Modern AuthorityWarwickshire
1974 AuthorityWarwickshire
Civil ParishBrandon and Bretford

At Brandon are some very extensive earthworks marking the site of an important mediaeval castle which formerly stood here. The defences appear to have consisted mainly of broad moats and sheets of water, (and lying as they do on low ground beside the Avon are even now liable to flood), dammed by artificial banks and fed by sluices from the Avon. "These works are very extensive, covering perhaps 6 or 7 acres. The central moated mount, upon which the castle itself stood, is an almost square plateau and contains nearly an acre; it has irregular additions and another smaller raised square on the east side; only fragments of walls of masonry now survive, and Dugdale wrote of it as merely 'moats and heaps of rubbish' in 1656" (VCH Vol. 1). The site of Brandon Castle "was granted by Henry I to Geoffrey de Clinton, founder of Kenilworth Castle, and was by him bestowed on his son-in-law, Norman de Verdune... The castle is supposed to have been erected by Geoffrey or his son-in-law. In 1255, owing to its being garrisoned for the King, it was attacked and razed by Simon de Montfort. It was rebuilt in the reign of Edward I, and the date of its subsequent destruction is unknown" (Ribton Turner). Brandon Castle "was still used as a residence in 1309, but how much later it continued so to function is not known". (VCH Vol. 6) Excavations in 1947 conducted by the late J.H. Edwards showed that the castle had a small rectangular keep - the only one in Warwickshire other than Kenilworth. It was assumed that the stone built castle was erected c.1225 and was destroyed in 1266. Finds, which included pottery, iron objects, coins etc. belong to this period (Chatwin). The foundations of the keep are still exposed and appear as a rectangle with a central division. In the court to the west, foundations of minor buildings can be traced

The perimeter of the field containing the site is marked by a bank and external ditch which appears to be a flood barrier - whether it is contemporary with the main works is difficult to say (Field Investigators Comments–F1 BHS 2-OCT-67). (PastScape)

Brandon Castle survives well and is unencumbered by modern development. Partial excavation of the site has shown that the tower keep and its wards retain important information concerning the construction of the castle and the activities of its inhabitants. The partly waterlogged ditches will retain evidence for the economy of the site's inhabitants and for the landscape in which they lived. The site is also of importance because of the castle's short period of occupancy, and its destruction in the 13th century will have sealed these early deposits and ensured that they have not been greatly disturbed by any later buildings on the site. The relationships between the ridge and furrow cultivation and the outer enclosure provides useful information on the impact of the castle on the land use of the surrounding area.

The monument is situated approximately 180m NW of St Margaret's Church, between the villages of Brandon and Wolston. It includes the standing and buried remains of Brandon Castle, an outer enclosure and an area of ridge and furrow cultivation. Brandon Castle is located within an area of low-lying ground alongside the River Avon, an area prone to waterlogging. The tower keep castle has been built on a raised platform near the centre of the site and is surrounded and strengthened by a 20m wide ditch, or moat, which is now partly waterlogged. A slight retaining bank is visible along the length of the southern arm of the ditch separating the water in the moat from that in the River Avon. The platform is divided into three rectangular wards by further ditches. The tower keep has been built within the central, smallest ward and it is flanked by larger courts. The central ward contains an irregular-shaped mound and is still almost surrounded by the ditch. Its original form has been partly modified by archaeological excavation and other disturbance. The surface of the central ward is uneven and at its NW corner are several courses of standing masonry, the only visible remains of the 13th century keep. The rectangular keep was excavated during the 1940s. It is built of well-dressed Kenilworth sandstone with a compact rubble core and has external dimensions of 16m NW-SE and 12m SW-NE. The western and eastern walls of the keep are up to 4.5m thick. Access into the keep is thought to have been through the northern wall. No part of the stonework for the doorway survives, but there is a break in the core of the north wall. The remains of a circular staircase were located in the SW corner of the keep providing access to the basement. The excavation uncovered a double recess within the southern wall of the keep which is thought to represent garderobes built higher in the keep. The central area within the keep is thought to have been divided into rooms, including the hall and a kitchen, the remains of which have been backfilled. The eastern ward or court measures approximately 48m north-south and 39m east-west and a slight bank defines its northern and eastern extent. Finds recovered during the partial excavation of this area suggest that the eastern ward is contemporary with the keep. The larger western ward measures 62m square and is connected to the central ward by a causeway at its NE corner. An excavation in the northern part of this ward recovered ornamental ridge tiles and pottery. To the north and west of the three inner wards is a large enclosure covering approximately 2.5ha. It is bounded along its northern, western and SW sides by a ditch which measures up to 16m wide. In the NE part of the outer enclosure the ditch has been infilled but it will survive as a buried feature and is included within the scheduling. At the western edge of the enclosure the ditch is now in use as a modern field drain and is not included within the scheduling. An internal bank is visible along the inner edge of the SW ditch which originally retained the water within the ditch. It is now unclear how far the enclosure originally extended eastwards beyond the present eastern field boundary but the scheduling includes the minimum known extent of the surviving archaeology. In the northern part of the site a partly infilled channel is visible which originally connected the northern enclosure ditch with the ditch surrounding the inner wards. This channel is thought to be associated with water supply to the ward ditch. Although infilled, it will survive as a buried feature and is, therefore, included in the scheduling. There is a rectangular platform in the SW corner of the outer enclosure. The corners of the platform are slightly raised and it measures 12m north-south and 21m east-west. It is thought to represent a building platform. Both within the outer enclosure and to the north of the site are the earthwork remains of ridge and furrow cultivation. The ridge and furrow to the north respects the castle earthworks and provides a stratigraphic relationship between Brandon Castle and the land use of the surrounding area. A 10m wide sample area of the northern ridge and furrow is included in the scheduling in order to preserve this relationship. The ridge and furrow within the outer enclosure respects the enclosure earthworks. It is thought, therefore, to post-date the castle site and provides evidence for agricultural activities taking place at the site after the abandonment of the castle. By the mid-12th century Geoffrey de Clinton was in possession of Brandon Castle and it passed through marriage to the de Verdon family. Nicholas de Verdon raised the level of the moats in 1226 and is considered to be responsible for the construction of the tower keep castle. In 1266 Brandon Castle was captured and destroyed by the garrison of Kenilworth Castle. Although the castle does not appear to have been restored, a documentary record refers to the existence of a castle and a park at Brandon in 1279 and the site was in use as a residence in 1309. (Scheduling Report)

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 ReferenceSP408759
Latitude52.3796195983887
Longitude-1.40207004547119
Eastings440800
Northings275900
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 100, 101, 120
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 263 (slight)
  • Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 32
  • Salter, Mike, 1992, Castles and Moated Mansions of Warwickshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 20
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 481
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 194
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 115-6
  • Salzman, L.F. (ed), 1951 VCH Warwickshire Vol. 6 p. 273-6 online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Willoughby Gardner, 1904, 'Ancient Defensive Earthworks' in Doubleday, H.A. and Page, Wm (eds), VCH Warwickshire Vol. 1 p. 359-60 online copy
  • Ribton-Turner, C.J., 1893, Shakespeares Land (Lemington and London) p. 280 online copy
  • Timmins, S., 1889, Popular County Histories: A history of Warwickshire (London: Elliot Stock) p. 237 online copy

Antiquarian

  • Dugdale, Wm., 1656, The Antiquities of Warwickshire (Thomas Warren) p. 209-30 online copy
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 477
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 11 online copy

Journals

  • Guy, Neil, 2011-12, 'The Rise of the Anti-clockwise Newel Stair' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 25 p. 113-174 online copy
  • Mackenzie, I., 1985, Moated Site Research Group Vol. 12 p. 29
  • 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)
  • Chatwin, P.B., 1955, Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society Vol. 73 p. 63-83
  • Chatwin, P.B., 1947-8, 'Castles in Warwickshire' Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society Vol. 67 p. 19-20
  • Round, J.H., 1905, 'A Great Marriage Settlement' The Ancestor Vol. 11 p. 153 online copy
  • Whitley, 1883, The Builder Vol. 45 p. 142-3, 148

Primary Sources

  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 453

Other

  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk West Midlands Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 45 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 45 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 44 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 55 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 55 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 60 online copy