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Brimpsfield Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Brimsfield; Brymmesfeld; Brimesfeld; Brymesfeld

In the civil parish of Brimpsfield.
In the historic county of Gloucestershire.
Modern Authority of Gloucestershire.
1974 county of Gloucestershire.
Medieval County of Gloucestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO940127
Latitude 51.81274° Longitude -2.08758°

Brimpsfield Castle has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Brimpsfield Castle dates from the 12th or 13th centuries, the site being chosen in preference to the lower position originally selected for a Norman motte and fosse (SO 91 SW 11 {The Rookery}). It was said to have had a massive central keep with four smaller towers at the angles, and the discovery in the ruins of finely carved stone heads of about AD 1240, now in Gloucester Museum, suggests the existence of a chapel within the walls. The castle was destroyed in AD 1321 by Edward II, and all that remains to mark its site is a mound with an outer bank surrounding an area of several acres, and the base of the main gate-way (Butler 1957; Bazeley 1895; Cox 1949).
The south and east sides are bounded by steeply sloping ground, but the north and west were defended by a large, deep and presumably dry moat. On the southern side of the castle are the remains of a 13th century gate-house uncovered c1920 and again in 1936. In the Upper Bancroft field are traces of buildings which may represent the site of a walled court outside the bailey, occupied by buildings for cattle and retainers (Butler 1959).
Brimpsfield Castle comprises a deep dry moat enclosing an area subdivided into three parts.
At the E end a squarish depression may indicate the site of the keep. This is on higher ground but cannot be described as a motte. To the W of this the central area appears to be a ward. Another ward occupies the western end with a gatehouse entrance at the SW corner where portcullis grooves are visible in the excavated masonry.
The gap and causeway in the NW angle is probably a modern access. The owner Mr Ticehurst, Castle Cottage, has some museum-identified finds, viz, an Ed II penny, and Ed III groat, and a 14th century spur. Butler (1959) refers to traces of buildings in Upper Bancroft field. These almost certainly represent the deserted village and are not part of the castle complex (F1 NVQ 10-MAY-72). (PastScape)

Brimsfield castle was slighted in 1322 at the express command of Edward II. Local tradition has it the king ordered that "not one stone should henceforth stand one upon the other" following the rebellion of its Castellan, Sir John Giffard. The effectiveness of the king's order is still apparent today. There is virtually nothing left of the once powerful castle of the Giffards except for some earthworks and the partially eroded dry moat. (Dodd and Moss 1991)

Archaeological recording was undertaken at the castle gatehouse which was becoming badly damaged due to erosion and severe root disturbance. The position of the eastern and western sides of the gatehouse indicate that the original entrance was 3m wide, and slots for the portcullis, the remains of the door jambs and some evidence of decorative carving were clearly visible on both sides of the entrance. The western side survives as two courses of stone and patches of mortar were visible within both walls. The floor surface of the gateway was also well preserved and there was evidence for a possible stairway and laid stone floors. Following recording the walls were covered with soil and topped with a layer of turf to protect the remaining stonework. (Briege Williams, Gloucestershire County Council Archaeological Service 2012)

Although the castle was said to be slighted in 1322 and was described as ruined in 1327 (IPM) Maurice Berkley was appointed Constable in 1338 and became owner in 1340 in a patent grant which expressly mentions the castle and the manor suggesting a building of status survived although the income from the manor may have been of more importance to Maurice and the series of subsequent owners none of whom will have consider this a major residence. Dodd and Maurice suggest an original construction date of c. 1150, but the site, beside the church and the original form, a ringwork, may suggest an earlier construction date and the possibility this was a Norman post-Conquest rebuilding of a Saxon thegnal site. However, the nearby motte at the Rookery is usually suggested as an earlier precursor castle to this castle, although it's location may suggest more a hunting lodge in the park of the castle. Prior to its demolition, this was the caput of the powerful Giffard family, who held much land in south Wales. It is likely this was a major castle comparable with Castle Hedingham.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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