Located in a valley near the River Eamont stands Brougham Castle. Surrounded by a moat on three sides, the castle was built upon the foundations of the former Roman fort Brocavum. The ruins of the Roman fort provided stone for construction and the earthworks were adapted for medieval use. The site was acquired by the Anglo-Norman landowner, Robert de Vieuxpont, in circa 1214 and the castle he built consisted of a stone keep and service buildings.
The gatehouse is made up of three structures – an outer and inner gatehouse with a courtyard in between. The original gatehouse (inner) had its own portcullis and gates with the additional gatehouse and courtyard added early in the 14th century by the lord of Brougham – Robert Clifford.
The gatehouses were designed to provide residential accommodation with each having two storeys above its gate passage. The roof of the entrance features vaulted ceiling ribs (above).
What remains of the lodgings for the garrison can be seen across the courtyard (above). The communal rooms of the castle, the buildings were originally three storeys high and provided shelter to substantial numbers of fighting men during military occupation.
During the ownership of Robert Clifford and in response to his involvement in the Scottish wars which started in 1296, the castle saw the addition of the gatehouse complex, top storey of the keep, the Tower of League and stone curtain walls. The castle became increasingly neglected during the the following centuries until Lady Anne Clifford restored much of the fabric from 1650.
The Tower of League (above) was built in circa 1300 by Robert Clifford. The tower occupies a commanding position at the south end of the castle and was used as a residence. Each of the four floors comprised of a single chamber with a latrine and fireplace.
Brougham Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
On display in the visitor centre at Brougham Castle is the fragmented remains of a cup. A regional import from Yorkshire, the cup is thought likely to have been made at a pottery in the village of Wrenthorpe. The dark glazed drinking vessel is decorated with coloured vertical ribbing and dates to the 16th century.
On display in the visitor centre at Brougham Castle is the above altar which dates to the 3rd century AD. Constructed of white sandstone, the altar features a carved patera (a small frying pan) on the left hand side and a jug. On the right hand side there is a carved axe and a knife. The inscription reads “To the God Mars…Januarius…of the unit of Stratonician cavalry deservedly fulfilled his vow for himself and his family.” Stratonicaea was a town in Asia Minor and the Stratonician cavalry originated from this part of modern day Turkey. The altar dates to the time of the Roman fort and settlement Brocavum which was based at Brougham from circa 80AD until the 5th century AD. The presence of the altar indicates that the cavalry unit was stationed at the fort during the 3rd century.
On display in the visitor centre at Brougham Castle is a tombstone which was found in 1827 approximately 500 metres south of the castle. The sculpture depicts a boy in a cloak with only a small part of the inscription surviving and reads “Annamoris, his father, and Ressona, his mother, had this put up.” The date of the tombstone is not known.
On display in the visitor centre at Brougham Castle is a sculpted stone corbel. The grotesque male faced corbel originally supported a roof beam in the keep and was carved in the 14th century.
On display in the visitor centre at Brougham Castle is the above stone panel which was set up in the castle by Lady Anne Clifford. The panel commemorates her 17th century reconstruction of the castle with an inscription from the verse of Isaiah which she chose to describe her work as a restorer. The verse reads “And they that shall be of thee shall build up the old waste places: thou shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shall be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”