Brandon Castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

Rugby (District Authority)
Brandon and Bretford
National Grid Reference:
SP 40731 75915

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.

Brandon Castle survives well and is unencumbered by modern development. Partial excavation of the site has shown that the tower keep and its wards retain important information concerning the construction of the castle and the activities of its inhabitants. The partly waterlogged ditches will retain evidence for the economy of the site's inhabitants and for the landscape in which they lived. The site is also of importance because of the castle's short period of occupancy, and its destruction in the 13th century will have sealed these early deposits and ensured that they have not been greatly disturbed by any later buildings on the site. The relationships between the ridge and furrow cultivation and the outer enclosure provides useful information on the impact of the castle on the land use of the surrounding area.


The monument is situated approximately 180m NW of St Margaret's Church, between the villages of Brandon and Wolston. It includes the standing and buried remains of Brandon Castle, an outer enclosure and an area of ridge and furrow cultivation. Brandon Castle is located within an area of low-lying ground alongside the River Avon, an area prone to waterlogging. The tower keep castle has been built on a raised platform near the centre of the site and is surrounded and strengthened by a 20m wide ditch, or moat, which is now partly waterlogged. A slight retaining bank is visible along the length of the southern arm of the ditch separating the water in the moat from that in the River Avon. The platform is divided into three rectangular wards by further ditches. The tower keep has been built within the central, smallest ward and it is flanked by larger courts. The central ward contains an irregular-shaped mound and is still almost surrounded by the ditch. Its original form has been partly modified by archaeological excavation and other disturbance. The surface of the central ward is uneven and at its NW corner are several courses of standing masonry, the only visible remains of the 13th century keep. The rectangular keep was excavated during the 1940s. It is built of well-dressed Kenilworth sandstone with a compact rubble core and has external dimensions of 16m NW-SE and 12m SW-NE. The western and eastern walls of the keep are up to 4.5m thick. Access into the keep is thought to have been through the northern wall. No part of the stonework for the doorway survives, but there is a break in the core of the north wall. The remains of a circular staircase were located in the SW corner of the keep providing access to the basement. The excavation uncovered a double recess within the southern wall of the keep which is thought to represent garderobes built higher in the keep. The central area within the keep is thought to have been divided into rooms, including the hall and a kitchen, the remains of which have been backfilled. The eastern ward or court measures approximately 48m north-south and 39m east-west and a slight bank defines its northern and eastern extent. Finds recovered during the partial excavation of this area suggest that the eastern ward is contemporary with the keep. The larger western ward measures 62m square and is connected to the central ward by a causeway at its NE corner. An excavation in the northern part of this ward recovered ornamental ridge tiles and pottery. To the north and west of the three inner wards is a large enclosure covering approximately 2.5ha. It is bounded along its northern, western and SW sides by a ditch which measures up to 16m wide. In the NE part of the outer enclosure the ditch has been infilled but it will survive as a buried feature and is included within the scheduling. At the western edge of the enclosure the ditch is now in use as a modern field drain and is not included within the scheduling. An internal bank is visible along the inner edge of the SW ditch which originally retained the water within the ditch. It is now unclear how far the enclosure originally extended eastwards beyond the present eastern field boundary but the scheduling includes the minimum known extent of the surviving archaeology. In the northern part of the site a partly infilled channel is visible which originally connected the northern enclosure ditch with the ditch surrounding the inner wards. This channel is thought to be associated with water supply to the ward ditch. Although infilled, it will survive as a buried feature and is, therefore, included in the scheduling. There is a rectangular platform in the SW corner of the outer enclosure. The corners of the platform are slightly raised and it measures 12m north-south and 21m east-west. It is thought to represent a building platform. Both within the outer enclosure and to the north of the site are the earthwork remains of ridge and furrow cultivation. The ridge and furrow to the north respects the castle earthworks and provides a stratigraphic relationship between Brandon Castle and the land use of the surrounding area. A 10m wide sample area of the northern ridge and furrow is included in the scheduling in order to preserve this relationship. The ridge and furrow within the outer enclosure respects the enclosure earthworks. It is thought, therefore, to post-date the castle site and provides evidence for agricultural activities taking place at the site after the abandonment of the castle. By the mid-12th century Geoffrey de Clinton was in possession of Brandon Castle and it passed through marriage to the de Verdon family. Nicholas de Verdon raised the level of the moats in 1226 and is considered to be responsible for the construction of the tower keep castle. In 1266 Brandon Castle was captured and destroyed by the garrison of Kenilworth Castle. Although the castle does not appear to have been restored, a documentary record refers to the existence of a castle and a park at Brandon in 1279 and the site was in use as a residence in 1309. All fence posts at the site are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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
Salter, M, Castles and Moated Mansions of Warwickshire, (1992), 20
Salzman, L F, Wells, H B, The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire , (1951), 273
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Brandon Castle, Warwickshire, (1955), 63
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Brandon Castle, Warwickshire, (1955), 73


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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