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Brandon Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Brandon and Bretford, Warwickshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.3797 / 52°22'47"N

Longitude: -1.4033 / 1°24'12"W

OS Eastings: 440710.003253

OS Northings: 275910.235029

OS Grid: SP407759

Mapcode National: GBR 7NW.S1B

Mapcode Global: VHBX6.MGG1

Entry Name: Brandon Castle

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1934

Last Amended: 13 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011371

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21550

County: Warwickshire

Civil Parish: Brandon and Bretford

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Warwickshire

Church of England Parish: Wolston St Margaret

Church of England Diocese: Coventry

Details

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.
All fence posts at the site are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A tower keep castle is a strongly fortified residence in which the keep is the
principal defensive feature. The keep may be free-standing or surrounded by a
defensive enclosure; they are normally square in shape, although other shapes
are known. Internally they have several floors providing accommodation of
various types. If the keep has an attached enclosure this will normally be
defined by a defensive wall, frequently with an external ditch. Access into
the enclosure was provided by a bridge across the ditch, allowing entry via a
gatehouse. Additional buildings, including stabling for animals and workshops,
may be found within the enclosure. Tower keep castles were built throughout
the medieval period, from immediately after the Norman Conquest to the mid-
15th century, with a peak in the middle of the 12th century. A few were
constructed on the sites of earlier earthwork castle types but most were new
creations. They provided strongly fortified residences for the king or leading
families and occur in both urban or rural situations. Tower keep castles are
widely dispersed throughout England with a major concentration on the Welsh
border. They are rare nationally with only 104 recorded examples. Considerable
diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With
other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to
the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative
centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles
generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a
valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and
defence, and to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining
significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally
important.

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.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Salter, M, Castles and Moated Mansions of Warwickshire, (1992), 20
Salzman, L F, Wells, H B, The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire , (1951), 273
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Brandon Castle, Warwickshire, (1955), 63
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Brandon Castle, Warwickshire, (1955), 73

Source: Historic England

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