Brimpsfield Castle

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Ringwork), and also as a Possible Masonry Castle

There are masonry footings remains

NameBrimpsfield Castle
Alternative NamesBrimsfield; Brymmesfeld; Brimesfeld; Brymesfeld
Historic CountryGloucestershire
Modern AuthorityGloucestershire
1974 AuthorityGloucestershire
Civil ParishBrimpsfield

Brimpsfield Castle dates from the 12th or 13th centuries, the site being chosen in preference to the lower position originally selected for a Norman motte and fosse (SO 91 SW 11 {The Rookery ). It was said to have had a massive central keep with four smaller towers at the angles, and the discovery in the ruins of finely carved stone heads of about AD 1240, now in Gloucester Museum, suggests the existence of a chapel within the walls. The castle was destroyed in AD 1321 by Edward II, and all that remains to mark its site is a mound with an outer bank surrounding an area of several acres, and the base of the main gate-way (Butler 1957; Bazeley 1895; Cox 1949).

The south and east sides are bounded by steeply sloping ground, but the north and west were defended by a large, deep and presumably dry moat. On the southern side of the castle are the remains of a 13th century gate-house uncovered c1920 and again in 1936. In the Upper Bancroft field are traces of buildings which may represent the site of a walled court outside the bailey, occupied by buildings for cattle and retainers (Butler 1959).

Brimpsfield Castle comprises a deep dry moat enclosing an area subdivided into three parts.

At the E end a squarish depression may indicate the site of the keep. This is on higher ground but cannot be described as a motte. To the W of this the central area appears to be a ward. Another ward occupies the western end with a gatehouse entrance at the SW corner where portcullis grooves are visible in the excavated masonry.

The gap and causeway in the NW angle is probably a modern access. The owner Mr Ticehurst, Castle Cottage, has some museum-identified finds, viz, an Ed II penny, and Ed III groat, and a 14th century spur

Butler (1959) refers to traces of buildings in Upper Bancroft field. These almost certainly represent the deserted village and are not part of the castle complex (F1 NVQ 10-MAY-72). (PastScape)

Brimsfield castle was slighted in 1322 at the express command of Edward II. Local tradition has it the king ordered that "not one stone should henceforth stand one upon the other" following the rebellion of its Castellan, Sir John Giffard. The effectiveness of the king's order is still apparent today. There is virtually nothing left of the once powerful castle of the Giffards except for some earthworks and the partially eroded dry moat. (Dodd and Moss 1991)

Archaeological recording was undertaken at the castle gatehouse which was becoming badly damaged due to erosion and severe root disturbance. The position of the eastern and western sides of the gatehouse indicate that the original entrance was 3m wide, and slots for the portcullis, the remains of the door jambs and some evidence of decorative carving were clearly visible on both sides of the entrance. The western side survives as two courses of stone and patches of mortar were visible within both walls. The floor surface of the gateway was also well preserved and there was evidence for a possible stairway and laid stone floors. Following recording the walls were covered with soil and topped with a layer of turf to protect the remaining stonework. (Briege Williams, Gloucestershire County Council Archaeological Service 2012)

Gatehouse Comments

Although the castle was said to be slighted in 1322 and was described as ruined in 1327 (IPM) Maurice Berkley was appointed Constable in 1338 and became owner in 1340 in a patent grant which expressly mentions the castle and the manor suggesting a building of status survived although the income from the manor may have been of more importance to Maurice and the series of subsequent owners none of whom will have consider this a major residence. Dodd and Maurice suggest an original construction date of c. 1150, but the site, beside the church and the original form, a ringwork, may suggest an earlier construction date and the possibility this was a Norman post-Conquest rebuilding of a Saxon thegnal site. However, the nearby motte at the Rookery is usually suggested as an earlier precursor castle to this castle, although it's location may suggest more a hunting lodge in the park of the castle. Prior to its demolition, this was the caput of the powerful Giffard family, who held much land in south Wales. It is likely this was a major castle comparable with Castle Hedingham.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSO940127
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image

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  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 82 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 180
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 194
  • Verey, David, 1979, Buildings of England: Gloucestershire: the Cotswolds p. 134-5
  • Cox, J.C., 1949, Gloucestershire: Little Guide (London: Methuen & Co) p. 58
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 71
  • 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. 1 p. 373-4 online copy


  • Gloucestershire County Council Archaeological Service, 2012, 'Archaeological Review (2011)' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 130 p. 308
  • Ecclestone, Martin, 1997, 'The Name 'Manless Town in Brimpsfield Parish' Glevensis Vol. 31 p. 52 online copy
  • Newbury, John, 1993, 'Map and Documentary Interpretation in Brimpsfield Parish' Glevensis Vol. 27 p. 33 online copy
  • Dodd, Arthur and Moss, Philip, 1991, 'The history of Brimsfield Castle and the Giffard family' Glevensis Vol. 25 p. 34-35 online copy
  • Rawes, B., 1977, 'A Check List of Castles and other Fortified Sites of Medieval Date in Gloucestershire' Glevensis Vol. 11 p. 39-41 online copy
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Butler, R.F., 1959, Cotteswold Naturalists Field Club Proceedings Vol. 33 p. 113-121
  • Butler, R.F., 1957, 'The Last of the Brimpsfield Giffards, and the Rising of 1321-2' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 76 p. 75-97 online copy
  • Bazeley, W., 1895-7, 'Brimpsfield Castle and Its Owners' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 20 p. 233-240 (history only) online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Close Rolls Edward II (1318-1323) Vol. 3 p. 447 (passing reference demolition of castle 1322) view online copy (requires subscription but searchable) [alternative online copy >]
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1908, Calendar of Charter Rolls Edward I, Edward II 1300-1326 Vol. 3. (HMSO) p. 444 (Grant of castle to Hugh Despenser 1322) view online copy (The latin, in record type can be seen in Reports touching the Dignity of a Peer Vol. 5 p. 18-19 [online copy >])
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1909, Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward II Vol. 7 p. 42- no. 78 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1896, Calendar of Close Rolls Edward III (1327-30) Vol. 1 p. 58 view online copy (requires subscription but searchable) [alternative online copy >]
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1327-30) Vol. 1 p. 527 view online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1898, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1338-40) Vol. 4 p. 446 view online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1902, Calendar of Close Rolls Edward III (1341-43) Vol. 6 p. 391 view online copy (requires subscription but searchable)
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1916, Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward III Vol. 9 p. 28- no. 46 view online copy
  • Feet of Fines CP25/1/288/51 unknown counties 5 and 6 (John Maltravers acknowledges castle and manor to be the right of Lionel of Antwerp 1352) online image of manuscript[online image of manuscript >]