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Historic England Research Records

The Brays

Hob Uid: 1527870
Location :
Warwickshire
Warwick
Kenilworth
Grid Ref : SP2804072020
Summary : The site of the large medieval defensive earthwork of the Brays to the south of Kenilworth Castle. It comprises a line of banks and huge ditches, and the name probably derives from the French 'braie' - a military outwork defended by palisades. Beyond the Gallery Tower is the site of the medieval floodgate which controlled the level of the mere. The mere dam was such an important feature that a small area of land beyond the southern end of the dam was incorporated within the castle defences by Simon de Montfort in the 13th century. It provided protection for both the dam and the medieval floodgate and is enclosed to the south and east by a bank and an external ditch. Five levelled earthen mounds are visible at intervals along the top of the bank and it has been suggested that they were areas for tents or pavilions for tournament spectators rather than defensive works. There is a gap in the bank on the eastern side and this is occupied by the remains of two circular towers and a length of walling. These ruins are believed to be the facade of an elaborate entrance into the Brays which was built by Robert Dudley in the 16th century prior to one of Elizabeth I's visits to Kenilworth.The external ditch measures up to 12 metres deep and 30 metres wide and was originally water-filled. It was fed from the mere and the level controlled by sluice gates. Excavation at the north eastern end of the Brays located a stone dam and a sluice gate, whilst an earthwork dam is visible at the southern angle. Beyond the south eastern part of the Brays the ground falls away and the construction of a bank here would have been necessary to retain water within the ditch. A second ditch is visible running east below the earthen dam at the southern angle; this is thought to be the remains of the outlet channel for the water defences of the Brays. It originally continued eastwards but has been infilled and modified by the construction of 23-33 Castle Street and their gardens.
More information : The site of the large defensive earthwork of the Brays to the south of Kenilworth Castle. It comprises a line of banks and huge ditches, and the name probably derives from the French 'braie' - a military outwork defended by palisades. Beyond the Gallery Tower is the site of the medieval floodgate which controlled the level of the mere. The mere dam was such an important feature that a small area of land beyond the southern end of the dam was incorporated within the castle defences by Simon de Montfort in the 13th century. It provided protection for both the dam and the medieval floodgate and is enclosed to the south and east by a bank and an external ditch. Five levelled earthen mounds are visible at intervals along the top of the bank and it has been suggested that they were areas for tents or pavilions for tournament spectators rather than defensive works. There is a gap in the bank on the eastern side and this is occupied by the remains of two circular towers and a length of walling. These ruins are believed to be the facade of an elaborate entrance into the Brays which was built by Robert Dudley in the 16th century prior to one of Elizabeth I's visits to Kenilworth.
The external ditch measures up to 12 metres deep and 30 metres wide and was originally water-filled. It was fed from the mere and the level controlled by sluice gates. Excavation at the north eastern end of the Brays located a stone dam and a sluice gate, whilst an earthwork dam is visible at the southern angle. Beyond the south eastern part of the Brays the ground falls away and the construction of a bank here would have been necessary to retain water within the ditch. A second ditch is visible running east below the earthen dam at the southern angle; this is thought to be the remains of the outlet channel for the water defences of the Brays. It originally continued eastwards but has been infilled and modified by the construction of 23-33 Castle Street and their gardens. (1-2)

Scheduled. (2)

The site lies within a Registered Park and Garden. (3)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Kenilworth Castle (English Heritage Guidebooks)
Source details :
Page(s) : 5, 39
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : Warwick, 04-JAN-1996
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Register of parks and gardens of special historic interest in England
Source details : Warwick, 28-FEB-1986
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Medieval
Monument End Date : 1265
Monument Start Date : 1244
Monument Type : Bank (Earthwork), Ditch, Dam, Sluice Gate, Water Channel
Evidence :
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Tudor
Monument End Date : 1588
Monument Start Date : 1563
Monument Type : Bank (Earthwork), Ditch, Dam, Tower, Wall, Artificial Mound
Evidence :

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 21576
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Register of Parks and Gardens Legacy No.
External Cross Reference Number : GD1472
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SP 27 SE 80
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 333875
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : THE BRAYS CAR PARK, KENILWORTH CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : KENILWORTH CASTLE: THE BRAYS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2006-12-31