Brockhurst Castle: a tower keep castle and causeway, 200m south of Brockhurst


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Brockhurst Castle: a tower keep castle and causeway, 200m south of Brockhurst
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Church Stretton
National Grid Reference:
SO 44666 92570

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 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.

Although no trace of the tower keep survives above ground, Brockhurst Castle provides a good example of the earthwork elements of castles of this class. The defensive enclosure which would have surrounded the keep survives intact as the northern ward or inner bailey of the castle. The southern attached enclosure or outer bailey, separated from the keep by a defensive ditch, also survives intact. Small scale excavations in 1959 of a section of the ditch between the two baileys and a small area of the southern outer ward revealed the existence of substantial buried structures in this area. Finds made at the same time clearly demonstrate that archaeological material will survive in the interior of the castle. Environmental evidence relating to the economy of the castle and the landscape in which it was built will be preserved beneath the banks and in the ditch fills. Such tower keep castles are rare in Shropshire and where they do exist are often modified from their original form into more complex castles. The short duration of the life of Brockhurst Castle, abandoned after only 100 years, has preserved the castle in its original form, so providing valuable information concerning military architecture in the early medieval period. The short duration of occupation represented in the archaeological record will also provide a very clear picture of the function, organisation and life of the community which inhabited the castle during this period.


The monument includes the remains of Brockhurst Castle and an associated causeway. The castle is believed to be the remains of a tower keep castle, built around 1154 by Henry II to guard the main north to south route through Shropshire where it passes through the Church Stretton valley. It is situated in a naturally defensive position on the southern tip of a small north-south ridge, overlooking the once marshy floor of Stretton Dale to the south and west. By 1215 the custody of the castle was in dispute and as a result it seems to have been slighted and deserted shortly after this date. Although the castle is believed to have been a tower keep fortification originally, all that remains visible today are the earthwork elements of the castle. These comprise two plateau-like wards or baileys separated by a ditch. Surrounding both baileys is a formidable defensive ditch averaging 8m wide and 2.6m deep. This is augmented around the south west, west and north west sides by a substantial outer bank, up to 10m wide and 3.5m high on its outer face, 1.4m high on its inner face. The outer ditch has been cut around the end of the natural spur, on average 6m below the levelled summit, creating the two plateau-like wards of the castle, the spoil from the ditch being thrown outwards to form the counterscarp bank. The northern bailey is the smaller of the two with internal dimensions of 44m north west to south east by 28m north east to south west. The levelled interior stands 5m above the base of the outer ditch and is bounded around its north and west sides by a well defined inner bank 0.7m high running along the edge of the main scarp. This is interrupted at the northern corner of the bailey by a simple entrance gap 2m wide, the outer ditch is similarly interrupted at this point by an original causeway which is approached by a trackway which climbs the hill from the north west. Terraced 0.2m into the south east corner of the bailey is a rectangular platform 7m square, this may represent the foundations of an original building. In the northern quarter of the bailey, cut into the face of the inner bank, are the remains of a trench 4m long by 2m wide, it may date from an archaeological exploration of the monument undertaken in 1959. The second bailey lies to the immediate south west, separated from the northern bailey by a substantial ditch 14m wide and 3m deep cut across the line of the natural spur. Excavation in 1959 demonstrated that the southern bailey was defended along this north western edge by a massive stone wall, the stone from which had been largely robbed away. Today a small section of the wall protrudes through the turf towards the top of the bailey scarp. A posthole near its base suggested that the ditch had originally been crossed at this point by a wooden bridge, linking the two baileys. A low causeway crossing the ditch here is therefore thought to be more recent. The levelled interior of the second bailey measures 53m south west to north east by 40m north west to south east. Today it shows no visible evidence of any structures; however, the 1959 excavation revealed it to have once had a stone curtain wall identified as dating from c.1154 with internal wooden buildings dated to c.1214.

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


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

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Books and journals
Barker, P A, 'TSAS' in Brockhurst Castle Excavations, , Vol. LVII, (1961), 63-80
OS ref card no SO49SW24, Phillips,SA., TSAS, (1972)


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

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