The starkly impressive Brough Castle stands on a ridge commanding the strategic Stainmore Pass, on the site of a Roman fort.
Frequently the target of Scots raids, its towering keep dates from about 1200. More comfortable living quarters were later added by the Clifford family, only to be accidentally burnt following a 'great Christmas party' in 1521.
Like so many other castles in the region, Brough was restored in the 17th century by the Lady Anne Clifford, traces of whose additions can still be seen.
St Michael's Parish Church, in pretty Church Brough near the castle, displays an exhibition about the region.
Read more about the history of Brough Castle.
Before You Go
Several sites in the area are associated with the formidable Lady Anne Clifford, including the picturesque Brougham Castle, set on the banks of the River Eamont, and a half hour drive from Brough. Visitors can explore its passages and spiral staircase, and climb to the top of the keep.
The distinctive Countess Pillar is a short walk from Brougham. It was erected by Lady Anne to mark her final parting from her mother.
Brougham Castle has toilet facilities and a shop selling gifts, hot and cold drinks and snacks.
Plan a Great Day Out
Opening Times: Open daily, 10am-5pm from April to September, 10am-4pm from October to March. Closed 24-26 December and 1 January. View details.
Access: There is limited space for parking near the castle in the village - please do not park at Brough Castle Farm. The entrance is via a kissing gate.
Facilities: Brough Castle Ice Cream Parlour and Tearoom is immediately adjacent to the site, and has a small play area. It is not managed by English Heritage.
The Roman fort of Verteris probably stands on what became the castle site, one of a chain of forts guarding the road across the Pennines.
Brough is among the first Norman castles to be founded in the far north-west of England after William II captures northern Westmorland and Cumberland from Scotland.
1174Lost to Fire
William the Lion, King of Scotland, captures Brough. He sets fire to the castle, destroying most of the keep.
1179-1199Rebuilding the Keep
Henry II grants the castle to Theobald de Valoines, who probably builds the present square keep on the site of the earlier one.
1203-68De Vieuxpont's Renovations
King John gives Brough to Robert de Vieuxpont, owner of nearby Brougham Castle. He rebuilds the gatehouse and curtain walls.
Ownership passes by marriage to Robert Clifford, a leading baron. He builds a new hall and Clifford's Tower as a family residence.
14th-15th centuriesCenturies of Cliffords
The curtain wall is strengthened twice to cope with Scottish attacks, and Roger Clifford alters the castle layout. Many of the male Cliffords die in battle.
1461-85Heir in Hiding
The notorious Black-faced Clifford, a Lancastrian supporter, is killed. His son Henry is forced into hiding.
After Henry Tudor's victory at Bosworth, Henry Clifford recovers his estates including Brough.
16th centuryAnother Fire
The Cliffords celebrate Christmas at Brough with a great feast in 1521. Soon afterwards a fire devastates the castle.
1605-43Lady Anne Clifford
Lady Anne Clifford, wrongly disinherited, finally inherits her estates and castles aged nearly 60 after decades of legal battles.
1659-76Lady of the North
Despite her age, Lady Clifford repairs all her decaying northern castles, including Brough, and lives to the age of 86.
1676-1763Neglect and Decay
The estate passes to the Tufton Earls of Thanet and the buildings are neglected and allowed to decay.
Henry Tufton, 1st Baron Hothfield, gives the castle to the Ministry of Works, shortly before a corner of the keep collapses.
Learn moreabout the history of Brough Castle
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