Bridgnorth Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1004783

Date first listed: 05-Dec-1928


Ordnance survey map of Bridgnorth Castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bridgnorth

National Grid Reference: SO 71675 92722


Part remains of a tower keep castle known as Bridgnorth Castle south of St Mary Magdalene’s Church.

Reasons for Designation

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. 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. The part remains of a tower keep castle known as Bridgnorth Castle south of St Mary Magdalene’s Church survives as buried archaeological remains and the upstanding tower keep which survives in its ruined condition after its destruction by parliamentary forces in 1676. All upstanding and buried remains will provide important information relating to the construction, development, occupation and destruction of this rare monument class as well as medieval social and economic development.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 17 June 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.

The monument includes the remains of a Norman tower keep castle situated on a steep sided sandstone promontory overlooking the River Severn to the east. Of the ruined remains to survive three sides of the keep walls stand approximately 20m high leaning to the east at a 17 degree angle. The shattered walls are the remains of a square Norman tower keep constructed in the 12th century. Fragments of curtain wall extend from its southern wall. Also included within the scheduling is part of the buried remains of the inner bailey which occupies the southern end of the promontory upon which the tower keep castle was situated and which in 1897 was laid out as a public park. The castle is thought to have been founded in 1101 by Robert de Belleme supposedly on the site of a Saxon burh built by Ethelflaeda in 912 AD. Belleme surrendered the castle to Henry I shortly after; it fell into the hands of Hugh de Mortimer during Stephen’s reign and then was surrendered to Henry II in 1155. From accounts of the 12th to 13th century there was a great hall, a King's Chamber, a Queen's Chamber, a royal kitchen, pantry and butlery, all built of stone and stables. Other sources refer to a great tower with a dungeon, a tilt yard, a barbican in which was the Constable's house and a prison, a drawbridge and a well. By 1281 the castle was in a bad state of repair and by Henry VIII's reign the castle was in ruins. The keep survived until 1646 when it was slighted by the Parliamentarians after a three week siege. The original church of St Mary Magdalene stood within the castle grounds and was replaced by the present church in the 18th century. The outer bailey was situated to the north of the tower keep and by 1242 this area was legally part of the medieval town. Both the grounds of Mary Magdalene Church and the site of the outer bailey lie outside the scheduled area.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: SA 22

Legacy System: RSM - OCN


HER: 00371
Pastscape: 114679

End of official listing