Brough Castle and Brough (Verteris) Roman fort and civil settlement


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
Church Brough, Eden, Cumbria. Located at NY 79151410 and NY 79391395.


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1007148.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 29-Nov-2021 at 00:23:20.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Church Brough, Eden, Cumbria. Located at NY 79151410 and NY 79391395.
Eden (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


The upstanding and buried remains of Brough (Verteris) Roman fort and its associated civilian settlement, Brough medieval castle and a forework and a series of linear earthorks associated with the castle at Church Brough.

Reasons for Designation

Brough Castle and Brough Roman fort and civil settlement is scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Survival: the monument survives well with the castle displaying significant upstanding fabric that illustrates its constructional development during the 6 centuries of its occupation, while the Roman fort survives well as a substantial earthwork partly overlain by the castle and surrounded by ditches latterly reused during the medieval period; * Potential: numerous limited archaeological excavations within the castle, Roman fort and associated vicus have revealed the well-preserved remains of buried archaeological features and the monument retains enormous potential for the preservation of similar archaeological material; * Historic interest: the monument retains sufficient historic interest to enhance our understanding of the Roman and medieval military occupation and settlement of northern England and the responses to perceived and actual threats from the north during these periods; * Documentation: the castle and Roman fort are well documented both historically and in the archaeological records which adds to their interest; * Group value: the castle has group value with strategically contemporary castles along the Stainmore Pass route over the Pennines at Bowes, Appleby and Brougham while the Roman fort has group value with strategically contemporary forts at Bowes, Kirkby Thore and Brougham.


The Roman fort of Verteris was constructed on the highest part of a ridge on the south bank of Swindale Beck, a tributary of the River Eden, slightly downstream of its confluence with Augill Beck. It lies at the western end of the Stainmore Pass, a route followed by the main Roman road through the Pennines that connects the Roman legionary fortress at York (Eboracum) with the fort at Carlisle (Luguvalium). The occupation of the fort possibly dates from the governorship of Agricola (AD 78-84) to the end of the C4. The fort’s enclosure measured about 3 acres (1.2ha) while an extra-mural settlement or vicus lay on the fort’s east side and a Roman cemetery lay to the east of the vicus. The only evidence for the Roman garrison station at Brough comes from later copies of the Notitia Dignitatum, an official late-C4/early C5 listing of Roman civil and military posts throughout the empire, which names the garrison at about this time as the Numerus Directorum, an irregular unit of auxiliary soldiers, usually part-mounted with a compliment of perhaps three or four hundred troops.

The history of Westmorland between the departure of the Romans in the early C5 and the arrival of the Normans in the latter half of the C11 is obscure. The collapse of Northumbrian rule in the second half of the C9 left a vacuum which in the early C10 was filled by the kings of Scots and their satellites, the kings of British Strathclyde. The area remained within the Scottish kingdom until the seizure of Cumbria by William Rufus (1056-1100) in 1092 when a new Anglo-Scottish border was secured by construction of a castle at Carlisle.

The establishment of the first castle at Brough is thought to have been contemporary with or immediately after the campaign of William Rufus when the Roman ditches were re-cut, a further ditch cut to define inner and outer baileys and a stone tower erected. The inner bailey appears to have been surrounded by stone walls, however, there is no evidence that the outer bailey was protected in a similar manner, although the re-cutting of the ditches at this date or later appears to have seen the material thus removed re-deposited on the defences of the Roman fort to the south of the medieval curtain wall.

Border warfare continued during the C12 and Appleby and Brough were the principal castles of the lordship of Westmorland, held successively by Ranulph de Meschines and the de Morvilles. In 1179 Henry II (1133-89) granted Brough Castle to Theobald de Valoines who is thought to have been the builder of the present square keep. The castle reverted to the crown about 1199 and four years later it was given by King John (1167-1216) to Robert de Vieuxpont (died 1228) who was granted the lordship of Westmorland. Robert improved the defences at Brough rebuilding the gatehouse and improving the curtain walls.

By virtue of marriage Robert Clifford (1274-1314) succeeded to Vieuxpont’s Westmorland heritage in the last decade of the C13. As an ally of Edward I (1239-1307) Clifford became involved in Scottish affairs and made Brougham Castle, near Penrith, his principal seat due to its proximity to the border. During Robert’s lordship he undertook repairs to Brough which included rebuilding the hall against the east curtain wall, adding the circular ‘Clifford’s Tower’ at the south-east corner and repairing the curtain walls.

After Robert Clifford’s death at Bannockburn the Scots were in the ascendance in northern England for several decades. Brough Castle was attacked in 1314 and again in 1319. During the 1320s documentary evidence indicates that the castle housed a large garrison including 15 men-at-arms and 20 cavalry. In the latter half of the C14 Robert’s grandson, Roger Clifford (1333-89), changed the layout of the living quarters by setting them against the south wall.

Once peace gradually came to the border region Brough Castle remained in the hands of the Cliffords, apart from a brief period during the early half of the C15. In 1521 the castle was devastated by an accidental fire and left as a ruin until Lady Anne Clifford (1590-1676) took possession of the Clifford estate in the mid-C16. The Cliffords’ northern estate included castles at Pendragon (Mallerstang), Skipton, Brougham, Appleby and Brough. Work began on the restoration of Brough Castle in 1659 and she rotated her residences amongst her castles, living in various ones for several months up to a year at a time.

After Lady Anne’s death Brough Castle came to the Earls of Thanet and although maintained until around 1714 most of the roofs and fitting were sold in this and the following year. The stables, gatehouse and hall were maintained for a short time as the manor court of Brough but by the late 1730’s the castle is depicted in a contemporary engraving as being a ruined shell. In 1763 part of Clifford’s Tower was demolished and after this further stone was removed. The castle has been consolidated during the C19 and C20.

Church Brough was a planned town that grew up under the protection of Brough Castle, itself built partly upon the site of the Roman fort of Verteris. To the east of the castle was the market place, surviving as a green, with, on the north side of the old market, the burgage plots of the early settlements. A short distance to the south is the parish church of St Michael, containing C12 and later works. The town of Church Brough never fully developed, the reason being the growth of a rival settlement, now known as Market Brough, about 0.8km to the north, which was established before the end of the C12 astride the medieval highway from Stainmore to the east and Penrith and Carlisle to the west. Market Brough’s fair is mentioned in 1314 and its market was established by charter in 1330.

History of Archaeological Investigation

Numerous chance finds were located mainly in the period 1820-1860 where Swindale Beck, reinforced by its tributary the Augill, eroded what appears to have been a Roman rubbish tip on the north side of the castle and fort. Amongst the finds were over 130 lead sealings, both official and private, which imply that the objects whose packing was previously registered were unpacked for storage or redistribution at Brough.

Limited excavations undertaken by HM Office of Works in 1923 and shortly after within the castle walls prior to restoration of the castle located part of a Roman barrack block beneath the medieval keep.

Further limited excavations took place in 1954 when two areas within the Roman fort (Sites 1 & 2) to the south of the castle were excavated by Eric Birley. Site 1, within the western side of the fort, found a great depth of sterile clay from the Norman deepening of the Roman ditch. A cobble foundation was located and was considered by Birley to represent a stone outer revetment whose superstructure had been removed by the castle builders. Some walling of two Roman structures was also uncovered. Site 2, located on either side of a causeway giving access to the south moat into the castle gatehouse revealed denuded Roman walls, a drain and cobbles which Birley interpreted as possibly part of a range of rooms at the back of the Roman headquarters building – the principia – together with slight remains of a Roman granary.

In the early 1970’s excavation work, partly undertaken in advance of the realignment of the A685, identified and then removed part of a Roman cemetery as well as the remains of buildings dating from the C14-C17. The western edge of the cemetery appeared to run roughly along the centre of the new road alignment with seven further cremation burials recorded a few metres east of the new road line.

Further trial excavations to determine the existence of an extra-mural settlement, or vicus, associated with the Roman fort located a complex series of structures including the remains of floors (some flagged), walls (some wattle-and-daub, some stone) and pits south of the road emerging from Brough Castle Farm. While no stratified dating evidence was associated with these features, a small sample of mid-C2 pottery was found in the topsoil. In the field east of St Michael’s churchyard were found at least two periods of timber building with clay floors and finds included pottery dating from the late-C1/early-C2 to the C3. About 50m east of the fort, excavations produced evidence of a well-preserved bath house of several periods together with stratified pottery indicating occupation from the early-C2 to late-C3.

Excavations between the old course of the A685 and its new course revealed the remains of stone structures overlying earlier timber structures identified as two late-medieval and post-medieval properties at the southern end of Church Brough. Finds point to occupation between the C14 to the late C17.

In 1976 a geophysical survey undertaken to determine the extent of the Roman cemetery to the east of the new alignment of the A685 proved inconclusive.

Since the early 1990s a number of minor archaeological interventions have identified features including:

* part of the collapse of the castle wall and pottery from the C12-C13 in the eastern side of the castle moat. * a quern stone and some architectural fragments between Ash Garth and the east side of the castle and fort suggested as being medieval in date and possibly removed from the castle. * an unidentified stone construction just east of the present castle gateway in the south moat. * a drain beneath the cobbled surface within the farmyard of Church Farm. * the foundations of the castle’s north curtain wall with an offset belonging to a possible C13 buttress, evidence of rebuilding (possibly dating to 1245) and C17 latrines. * a quantity of Roman pottery and animal bone from the steep slope on the north side of the castle suggesting the possible presence of a Roman midden.

In 1996 the RCHME undertook a measured 1:500 survey of the castle and fort and surrounding area.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of Brough Roman fort and its associated vicus or civil settlement and the upstanding and buried remains of Brough Castle. The fort and castle are located to the west of the village of Church Brough on the highest part of a ridge to the south of Swindale Beck. Cutting across this ridge on the east and west sides of the fort and castle are linear earthworks of bank and ditch configuration. The vicus lies to the east and south east of the fort. The scheduling is divided into two separate areas. The largest contains the fort and castle, the linear earthworks and buried remains of part of the vicus. A second area of scheduling extends over two fields centred at NY79391395 and contains further buried remains of part of the vicus.

The exact size of the Roman fort is now difficult to determine given the medieval alterations caused by construction of the castle and its bailey. The width from east to west between the ditch centres flanking the fort/bailey platform measures 100-110m while the ditch flanking the south, west and part of the east sides measures up to 15m wide by 6.0m deep. There is a rampart on the west and part of the east sides of the platform up to 1.0m high and an outer counterscarp bank up to 0.5m high beyond the south ditch. The north to south measurements of the fort are currently unknown due to the presence of the overlying castle.

Buried remains of the vicus were located in two places amongst the yards and outbuildings of Brough Castle Farm. These remains included evidence for wattle-and-daub structures and stone structures in what is now a yard area in front of outbuildings immediately south of the access road to the farm, and well-preserved remains of the Roman bathhouse to the rear of a cluster of farm outbuildings.

Brough Castle is of stone construction and overlies the northern part of the Roman fort. It measures about 85m east-west and between about 20-45m north-south, widening towards its eastern end. Access is through the remains of a gatehouse in the south curtain wall which leads into a cobbled courtyard. Immediately to the west of the gatehouse are the lower courses of the castle’s stables. The castle’s south-west corner is dominated by the shell of the keep, a three-storey structure with corner turrets above a basement. Along the north curtain wall there are the remains of a double latrine and further along a range of buildings flanking the curtain wall as far as its north east corner are the lower courses of a brewhouse, bakehouse and kitchen. The inner range of buildings at the south-east corner of the castle include the hall range which contained a great hall above more modest rooms such as storerooms, basements and offices. The south east corner of the castle is dominated by Clifford’s Towers, a semi-circular projecting corner tower formerly of three storeys.

The castle is surrounded by a moat. A causeway 10-12m wide crosses the moat leading to the south gatehouse and there is a second, narrower causeway close to the south-west corner. The moat remains up to 8.5m deep in places and there is a counterscarp bank on all sides, although on the north side it has partly eroded down the steep hill slope.

Beyond the moat’s east arm there is a roughly triangular ‘forework’ with a ditch and counterscarp bank on its south and part of its east sides and the steep river cliff on its north side and the remainder of its east side. This ‘forework’ may represent the east end of an early courtyard or bailey which became isolated when the early-C14 curtain with its moat was created. The interior of the ‘forework’ contains the foundations of a more recent walled enclosure tentatively identified by the RCHME’s 1996 survey as a possible C17 walled garden.

The outworks along the ridge to either side of the castle consist of a single example to the east and two to the west. The eastern outwork extends from the eastern extremity of the ‘forework’ across the summit of the ridge to a point where the south-facing slope of the ridge starts to steepen. As such the earthwork functioned as a defence across the ridge and it survives as a ditch some 16-19m wide and up to 2.0m deep with traces of a low bank on its west side. Although heavily mutilated by later development in places, traces of the west bank still survive in the garden of Brough Castle Farm. The inner of the two western outworks lies some 40m to the west of the castle moat. It starts at the eroding river cliff at the north and crosses the ridge in similar fashion to the eastern outwork. It averages about 13m wide and is up to 3.8m deep with a rampart 0.5m high on its inner side. Towards the outwork’s southern end the ditch suddenly becomes shallow and the inner rampart terminates to be replaced by an outer bank up to 0.8m high. The outer of the two western outworks lies a further 55m to the west and also comprises a bank and ditch. It extends from the river cliff at the north in a SSW direction for about 95m to the southern base of the ridge. The ditch is 8-13m wide and up to 2.8m deep with a low counterscarp bank on its outer side.

Within the scheduled area centred at NY79391395 buried remains of the Roman vicus have been revealed in a field immediately to the east of St Michael’s Churchyard. Here archaeological excavation revealed substantial remains of two phases of timber buildings with clay floors and associated pottery dated from the late-C1/early-C2 to the C3. It also indicated that the vicus extended south-east from the fort at least as far as this field and potentially into the adjacent field to the east.

Extent of Scheduling

This includes the upstanding and buried remains of Brough Roman fort and two separate parts of its associated vicus, together with Brough Castle, its 'forework' to the east of the castle, and three outworks or linear earthworks to the east and west of the castle. The scheduling is divided into two separate areas, the larger containing the fort and part of the vicus, castle, 'forework' and outworks, the smaller lying to the east of St Michael's churchyard and containing buried remains of the vicus.

The boundary of the larger area runs along the south bank of Swindale Beck on the monument's north side and 2m beyond the outer edge of the western of the two outworks on the castle's west side as surveyed by the RCHME in 1996. On the south side the boundary runs along the base of the hill on which the fort and castle stand then follows a field boundary on the north side of a sunken lane. On the monument's west side the boundary initially follows a field boundary before running along the outside of outbuildings associated with Brough Castle Farm. It then crosses the access road leading to the farm before following the garden wall on the east side of Castle Hill Cottage. It then runs in a northern direction 2m beyond the outer edge of the eastern outwork before completing a circuit of the monument by running along the base of the hill on which the fort and castle stand.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling, these include all farm outbuildings, fences, walls, modern field boundaries, telegraph poles, all made up surfaces apart from the cobbled castle courtyard which is included, all gateposts and gates, all information boards, children's play area equipment, railings, a timber staircase giving access to the castle keep, all septic tanks, timber supports for a water trough, and all gabions providing erosion protection for the bank of Swindale Beck. The ground beneath all these features, however, is included.

Brough Castle Farmhouse and its surrounding garden are not included within the scheduled monument. The boundary of the scheduling here thus runs along the western side of outbuildings on the east side of the farmhouse and garden, then runs along the boundary of the garden on the farmhouse's south and west sides. On the farmhouse's north side the boundary follows the boundary of the garden and the northern edge of the farmhouse.

The boundary of the smaller scheduled area to the east of St Michael's churchyard follows modern field boundaries. All field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included.


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

Legacy System number:
CU 334
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Birley, E, 'Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society, NS, Vol 58, (1958), 31-56' in The Roman fort at Brough-under-Stainmore, , Vol. 58, (1958), 31-56
Collingwood, R G, 'Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society, Vol 31, (1931), 81-86' in Objects from Brough-under-Stainmore, , Vol. 31, (1931), 81-86
Gates, T, 'Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society, Vol VII' in Earthworks, Parchmarks and Cropmarks, , Vol. 7, (2007), 5
Jones, M J et al, 'Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society, NS, Vol 89, (1989), 141-178' in Archaeological Work at Brough-under-Stainmore: II. The medieval and later settlements, , Vol. 89, (1989), 141-178
Jones, M J et al, 'Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society. NS, Vol 77 (1977), 17-45' in Archaeological work at Brough-under-Stainmore 1971-77: I. The Roman Discoveries , , Vol. 77, (1977), 17-45
Richmond, I A, 'Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society, Vol 36 (1936), 104-125' in Roman leaden Sealings from Brough-under Stainmore, , Vol. 36, (1936), 104-125
Archaeological Services, Durham University, Brough Castle, Brough, Cumbria: archaeological monitoring, 2012,
Archaeological Services, Durham University, Brough Castle, Cumbria, and Easby Abbey and spofforth Castle, North Yorkshire: archaeological monitoring, 2011,
Brigantia Archaeological Practice, Archaeological invetsigation of land adjacent to Ash Garth, Church Brough, Cumbria, 2003,
Brough, Cumbria. Report of Geophysical Survey, 1976. Ancient Monuments Laboratory.,
Brougham and Brough Castles, Cumbria. Henry Summerson.
Cumbria HER No. 1783 Verterea/ Brough Roman fort, Brough,
HER 3/08/1982 Church Farm watching brief. Archaeo-Environment Ltd.,
HER 3/08/1987 Brough Castle Watching Brief. Oxford Archaeology North, 2008.,
North Pennines Archaeology Ltd, An archaeological watching brief and evaluation at Brough Castle, Church Brough, Cumbria, 2009,
RCHME Westmorland, 1936, 47-54,
RCHME, The Castle and Roman fort at Brough, Cumbria: Measured survey, 1996,


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].