Brougham Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Brougham Castle

Brougham Castle was an important medieval fortification in Cumbria restored in the 17th century by Lady Anne Clifford

Image Credit: Kyle Hoekstra

About Brougham Castle

The impressive remains of Brougham Castle overlook the River Eamont on the site of an earlier Roman fort.

Brougham Castle history

Once an important medieval fortification, Brougham Castle today bears the marks of Lady Anne Clifford, who restored the castle in the 17th century and died there aged 86 in 1676.

Brougham Castle was previously the site of a Roman fort, Brocavum, first established in the 1st century to support Roman adventures into Scotland. It also protected the Roman road as it crossed the rivers Eamont and Lowther. The vicus of Brougham, meaning “village by the fort”, developed around Brocavum.

A 3rd century altar dedicated to the god Mars located in the site entrance is evidence of Roman occupation. It belonged to a unit of the Stratonician cavalry which originally came from Asia Minor.

In the early 13th century, the Lord of Westmorland, Robert de Vieuxpont, began building Brougham Castle’s keep, hall and initial timber wall. The castle expressed his authority over his estates and reinforced England’s border with Scotland.

Under the control of the Clifford family, the castle formed the centre of an important estate. Robert, 1st Lord Clifford, multiplied the fortifications and transformed the keep into a secure house.

The medieval fortress was refurbished by Lady Anne Clifford between 1651 and 1652. To commemorate her works, Lady Anne Clifford installed a panel which alluded to a verse from Isaiah: “And they that shall be of thee shall build up the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations, and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”

Brougham Castle today

The site of Brougham Castle is maintained by English Heritage who charge a fee to approach the castle grounds. However visitors to Brougham Castle can survey the medieval ruins from a small bridge crossing the Eamont.

English Heritage operate a small shop and exhibition, which includes a Roman milestone and a grave marker established by a father, Vidaris, for his 18 year old son Crescentinus.

Getting to Brougham castle

Brougham Castle is immediately accessible from the A66 leading into the historic market town of Penrith, Cumbria. The castle is around 30 minutes east of Keswick, 30 minutes south of Carlisle and 40 minutes north of Kendal.

The castle is a stone’s throw away from Brougham Hall, Penrith Castle and Long Meg and Her Daughters. Penrith itself lies just outside the Lake District National Park.

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