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Historic England Research Records

St Briavels Castle

Hob Uid: 109524
Location :
Gloucestershire
Forest of Dean
St. Briavels
Grid Ref : SO5586004559
Summary : St Briavels Castle is situated on the edge of a steep scarp above the River Wye and is believed to have been sited on this spot to control a nearby ford at Bigsweir. The castle is thought to have been built on the site of an earlier motte and bailey, which was constructed after William Fitz Baderon acquired the estate in 1086 AD. A square stone keep over 100 feet high was constructed on top of the motte in the 12th century. Between 1209 and 1211, there were extensive additions to the castle including a domestic range, providing 'royal apartments', and a twin towered gatehouse. The gatehouse was rebuilt by Edward I between 1292 and 1293, which is the main structure that can be seen today. In the 14th century a chapel was built in the castle ward. St Briavels Castle was the Crown's administration centre for the Forest of Dean and numerous royal visitors during it's history included King John, Henry II and Edward II. It was one of a sequence of castles along the border built as a defensive strategy against the Welsh. However it was also used as a seat of legal administration including the Hundred Court, the Court Baron of the manor and castle, the Court of Criminal jurisdiction and the Mine-Law Court as well as a prison. Furthermore the castle served as an arsenal for locally produced weaponry. Following the conquest of Wales in the late 15th century the importance of the castle declined. In 1680, several parts were demolished, in 1752 the keep collapsed and in 1777 the east tower collapsed. It was used as a prison until 1842 before restoration in the late 19th century and use as a youth hostel from 1952. The extant remains mainly date from the 13th century and include a dry moat, rubble curtain walls, parts of the square keep, the domestic range, the site of the hall, and the twin towered gatehouse with a defended passage.
More information : (SO 558045) St. Briavels Castle (NR) (Remains of). (1)

A Royal castle (Pipe Rolls 31 Hen I AD 1129-30), but, according to Giraldae Cambrensis built by Milo, Earl of Hereford. (Earldom conferred AD 1141). History of the castle from 1129-1485. (2)

The existing buildings chiefly date from AD 1276, and include the twin-towered gatehouse and the kitchen. The keep collapsed in 1752, but the chapel rebuilt in the 14th.c. still stands against a building which was probably the King's chamber, beyond which is another chamber with a 14th.c.fireplace. The castle was allowed to decay at an early date, but was rendered habitable in 1906, and in 1952 was occupied by the Youth Hostels Association. Grade 1. (3-5)

St. Briavels castle is as described above. It has been used as a Youth Hostel since 1948 (a). See GP AO(WM) 70/3/10.

The moat that surrounds the castle is dry and has been made into a public garden by a local society formed in 1961, to preserve it. In the making of the garden much of the original moat has been
filled in, leaving only the west and South-west portions.
Published survey (25") revised. (6)

The 'Bailey Tump', forms a level platform to the west bounded by two steep scarps on the south and west sides where the ground drops sharply away to the Wye. (7)

Castle (NR). (8)

During 1982 St Briavels Castle was taken into the care of the Dept of the Enviroment. (9)

Verey considers that the irregular polygonal plan of the ward suggests that it was built on an earlier earthwork. (10)

Listed Grade I. (11)

Scheduled RSM Number 28868.
St Briavels Castle is situated on the edge of a steep scarp above the River Wye and is believed to have been sited on this spot to control a nearby ford at Bigsweir. The castle is thought to have been built on the site of an earlier motte and bailey, which was constructed after William Fitz Baderon acquired the estate in 1086 AD. A square stone keep over 100 feet high was constructed on top of the motte in the 12th century. Between 1209 and 1211, there were extensive additions to the castle including a domestic range, providing 'royal apartments', and a twin towered gatehouse. The gatehouse was rebuilt by Edward I between 1292 and 1293, which is the main structure that can be seen today. In the 14th century a chapel was built in the castle ward. St Briavels Castle was the Crown's administration centre for the Forest of Dean and numerous royal visitors during it's history included King John, Henry II and Edward II. It was one of a sequence of castles along the border built as a defensive strategy against the Welsh. However it was also used as a seat of legal administration including the Hundred Court, the Court Baron of the manor and castle, the Court of Criminal jurisdiction and the Mine-Law Court as well as a prison. Furthermore the castle served as an arsenal for locally produced weaponry. Following the conquest of Wales in the late 15th century the importance of the castle declined. In 1680, several parts were demolished, in 1752 the keep collapsed and in 1777 the east tower collapsed. It was used as a prison until 1842 before restoration in the late 19th century and use as a youth hostel from 1952. The extant remains mainly date from the 13th century and include a dry moat, rubble curtain walls, parts of the square keep, the domestic range, the site of the hall, and the twin towered gatehouse with a defended passage. (12)

Listed by Cathcart King. He considers that a nearby damaged ringwork (SO50NE7) was the predecessor of this castle. (13)

The castle falls within the area mapped by EH's Gloucestershire NMP. The buildings and outer walls, as well as traces of the mound and moat, are visible on aerial photographs taken in1946 and 1951. (14-15)

This article describes the castle including the keep, curtain walls, demolished buildings in the bailey, the domestic range, and the Edwardian gatehouse of 1292-3. (16)

Archaeological excavations took place in 1994 within the late 13th century gatehouse. Medieval stratigraphy and wall footings were found to have survived in the south-east of the gatehouse. The footings have been interpreted as representing the foundation plinths for part of the late 13th century gatehouse. (17)

A series of archaeological monitoring and excavation was carried out in 2003 during groundworks. Alterations of the castle structure from the 13th century to the present date were recorded. These included an underground rectangular structure, parts of the gatehouse buttress, a blocked chamfered window, and a stepped foundation. (18)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1954
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 821-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Gloucestershire, 2 : the Vale and the Forest of Dean
Source details :
Page(s) : 332-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Forest of Dean, 07-MAR-1988
Page(s) : 79
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1686
Source Number : 12
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : Schedule amendment 01-AUG-2000
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 182
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 14
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/1355 5422-3 02-APR-1946
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 15
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 540/545 4024-5 01-JUL-1951
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 16
Source : St Briavels Castle
Source details : Curnow, P E & Johnson, E A 1985 St Briavels Castle
Page(s) : 91 - 114
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 12
Source Number : 17
Source : St Briavels Castle, Gloucestershire. Archaeological Excavation
Source details :
Page(s) : Jan-14
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : Archaeological Watching Brief and Excavation at St. Briavels Castle, Gloucestershire
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : Illus (Hamilton Thompson)
Page(s) : 448-50
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 78, 1921
Source Number : 4
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : 2220/11/A, FEB-1952
Page(s) : 4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Little Guide to Gloucestershire 1949 (J.C. Cox)
Page(s) : 141
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 DRB 15-SEP-70
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6a
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Mrs C A O'Leary, YHA Warden St Briavels Castle
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 FKB 21-SEP-70
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:10 000 1976
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Archaeology in Britain 1983 [reports by official bodies, national bodies, research projects, and local organizations in England-Scotland-Wales]
Source details :
Page(s) : 14
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : built after 1086
Monument End Date : 1200
Monument Start Date : 1086
Monument Type : Castle, Motte, Bailey
Evidence : Earthwork, Conjectural Evidence, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built 1209-1211
Monument End Date : 1211
Monument Start Date : 1209
Monument Type : Castle, Keep, Gatehouse, Kitchen, Great Hall, Curtain Wall, Moat, Domestic Chapel
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Structure, Earthwork, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Repairs of 1246-55
Monument End Date : 1255
Monument Start Date : 1246
Monument Type : Castle, Keep, Drawbridge, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Alterations 1292-3
Monument End Date : 1293
Monument Start Date : 1292
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Rebuilt 14th century
Monument End Date : 1399
Monument Start Date : 1300
Monument Type : Royal Chapel
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Refronted 19th century
Monument End Date : 1899
Monument Start Date : 1800
Monument Type : Great Hall
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Early 20th Century
Display Date : Made habitable 1906
Monument End Date : 1906
Monument Start Date : 1906
Monument Type : House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Mid 20th Century
Display Date : Converted 1948
Monument End Date : 1948
Monument Start Date : 1948
Monument Type : Youth Hostel
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Mid 20th Century
Display Date : Moat converted 1961
Monument End Date : 1961
Monument Start Date : 1961
Monument Type : Garden
Evidence : Botanical Feature

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : GC 461
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 354515
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 28868
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 307
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Gloucestershire)
External Cross Reference Number : 15
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : HAW 9436/24
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : HAW 9436/23
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 108605
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1017371
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SO 50 SE 2
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 762714
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1388514
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SO 50 SE 2
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1970-02-19
End Date : 1970-02-19
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SO 50 SE 2
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1970-09-15
End Date : 1970-09-15
Associated Activities : Primary, ST BRIAVELS CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ST BRIAVELS CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ST. BRIAVEL'S CASTLE
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ST. BRIAVEL'S CASTLE
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: GLOUCESTERSHIRE NMP (NORTH COTSWOLDS AND FOREST OF DEAN)
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2006-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ST BRIAVELS CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT ST. BRIAVELS CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ST. BRIAVELS CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31