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Drumburgh Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Bowness.
In the historic county of Cumberland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY26565977
Latitude 54.92719° Longitude -3.14727°

Drumburgh Castle has been described as a certain Tower House.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Tower House, now farmhouse. C13, licence to crenellate granted to Robert le Brun 24 August 1307. Alterations originally dated 1518 with initials and coat of arms of Thomas Lord Dacre over entrance; further alterations between 1678 and 1681 for John Aglionby and C19 additions. Extremely thick walls of squared and coursed red sandstone (from the nearby Roman Wall) on chamfered plinth, parapet over entrance with carved stone eagle finials; steeply pitched graduated greenslate roof with coped gables, brick chimney stacks. 3 storeys (formerly 4 storeys), 5 bays; single-storey single-bay extension to left. C19 gabled brick porch with Welsh slate roof; to right is a blocked round-headed C13 window. C13 blocked round-headed ground floor entrance is partly covered by C16 or C17 external stone steps to first floor. 1517 entrance; iron-studded oak plank door could be original (with later internal lock dated and inscribed J.L. 1681) in pointed-arched and chamfered surround with carved stone panel of arms above. Ground floor and first floor sash windows with glazing bars in enlarged C16 openings. Continuous row of blocked slit vents above. Second floor C16 2-light stone-mullioned windows now have Yorkshire sashes with mullions removed; blocked third floor windows slightly above and between these windows. Rear wall has similar windows and blocked windows. End wall right, which was in danger of collapse, was completely taken down in the late 1970's and rebuilt in facsimile, with broad central buttress and corbelled-out battlemented parapet, which may have been the remains of medieval crenellation. Floor levels of interior changed in C16 and Cl7: many original features will be covered by later plasterwork. First floor C17 wood-panelled room. Interior of rebuilt end is entirely of breeze blocks and open from floor to roof; roof of king-post trusses could be C16. (Listed Building Report)

Drumburgh Castle, a pre 1306 fortified Manor house (Peel), belonged to Robert le Brun who obtained licence to crenellate in 1307. A ditch to the West and South is probably the only surviving evidence for this building which was demolished and superseded in 1525 by the present building, partly rebuilt in 1681. Most of the masonry for the Castle seems to have been derived from the Roman Wall, and a Roman altar appears to be in (? built into) the outside doorway on the first floor. Drumburgh Castle formed a unit in the long line of English strongholds which guarded the Scottish Border, standing as it does, nearly opposite one of the fords across the Solway. (PastScape ref. McIntire 1929)

DRUMBURGH (NY 266597). Examination by P. Dixon and P. Borne of Drumburgh Castle has shown that the ground floor of Thomas Lord Dacre's early 16th-century stone house incorporates the ruins of a stone hall with blocked windows and an elaborate blocked door of early 13th-century character, presumed to be the remains of the manor house which Richard le Brun fortified after 1307. (Med. Arch. 1979)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 407
      Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 66
      Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 49
      Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 263
      Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 40
      Jackson, M.J.,1990, Castles of Cumbria (Carlisle: Carel Press) p. 54
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 85
      Hugill, Robert, 1977, Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 84-5
      Pevsner, N., 1967, Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (Harmondsworth: Penguin) p. 74
      Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 188, 202-3
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 311 online copy
      Taylor, M.W., 1892, Old Manorial Halls of Westmorland and Cumberland (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 8) p. 352 online copy
      Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 405 online copy
      Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1853, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 2 p. 225 online copy
  • Periodical Articles
    • Bennet, J., Herne, A. and Whitworth, A., 1987, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 87 p. 81
      Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1979, 'Medieval Britain in 1978' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 23 p. 270 online copy
      McIntire, W.T., 1929, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 29 p. 205-10
      Arch Notes, 1925-6, Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society Vol. 3 p. 216
      1920, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 20 p. 220-2
      Graham, 1911, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 11 p. 241-2
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
    • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1894, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward II (1307-13) Vol. 1 p. 11 online copy
  • Antiquarian (Histories and accounts from late medieval and early modern writers)
    • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
      Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 93
      Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 51 online copy
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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