Graffiti in Brougham Castle, Cumbria

I have already posted about Brougham Castle in Cumbria, but I forgot to post about some graffiti that I found in the little chapel at the top of the keep.  I love finding old graffiti, maybe it would be better it there were none, but as man has always had the need to make his mark, its interesting to see how he made it down the ages.  The graffiti I came across in the keep it not the oldest I have found, and there might older on site, but I found some dated from the 1800’s……… I must say they were very neat.  

Schloss Oberhofen, Lake Thun, Switzerland

In September 2015 we are staying near Interlaken, in Switzerland, in a lovely hotel on the side of Lake Thun.   One evening we were exploring the local surroundings and found a castle or Schloss.  Unfortunately it was closed, but that didn’t stop me from having a good look at the exterior.  I would like to go back and have a look, as it does sound quite interesting with a lovely garden.  The weather was horrible, rainy and quite cold, so the photos were very dark and were headed for the trash.  But I wanted a record of the castle, so with a bit of magic, I think I have just about saved them in mono and chrome.  Thats another good reason to go back to capture the castle in the sunshine.

A little history that I found……The mighty keep of Schloss Oberhofen dates back to the twelfth century but the main palace and chapel are from the fifteenth century. The picturesque little tower in the lake is even more recent and a typical nineteenth-century addition.  One of the first owners of Schloss Oberhofen was Walther von Eschenbach, who was an accomplice in the murder of the Roman German King Albrecht the First in 1308. Ironically, the castle soon after ended up in the possession of the Habsburgs just to lose it again after the Battle of Sempach (1386). From 1844 to 1925, Oberhofen Castle was the summer seat of the Pourtalès family of Neuchatel-Prussian nobility, who converted it into its present state, built the delightful little tower in the lake, and planted the park.


Castle Tioram, Eilean Tioram Island, Scotland

Last years holiday to Scotland in 2017, was mostly a wash out, but we did have a few nice days and on one of these we came across Castle Tioram, sitting on the tidal island of Eilean Tioram.

Castle Tioram is a ruined castle that sits on the tidal island Eilean Tioram in Loch Moidart, Lochaber, Highland, Scotland.  It is located west of Acharacle, approximately 80 km from Fort William.  You find it down a two mile bumpy single track road, but it is worth it.

We parked the car in the sandy carpark and walked across the sandbar causeway, you should watch the tide, but I should think it would be ok unless it was a very high tide, but its better to be on the safe side.  We started to climb the grassy slope up to the castle gate.  There had only been another couple, but they disappeared, so we were quite alone.  We came to the gate, which was broken, the door was swung open, the following photo shows the gate from the inside……yes we went in, we should not have, as it is very dangerous, but we did.  I think going into this castle is the closest I have been to a castle that had has not really been changed in hundreds of years.  The owner wants to turn it into a house, which would be a terrible mistake, it needs to be consolidated and open to the public, its a little gem of history.

The origins of the structure you can see today, date back to the building of a castle at some point in the 1200s.  This would have comprised a curtain wall, following the irregular plan still evident, though probably of rather lower height as there is evidence of the walls being heightened later in the castle’s life. Access was by the barrel vaulted gateway which remains the only entrance today.  Over the following four centuries, Castle Tioram was altered and added to many times, but most of these changes affected the interior accommodation, with the result that the basic shape of the castle today would still be recognised by its original builders, some eight hundred years ago.

The castle courtyard is on two levels and is heavily over grown. 

Castle Tioram was recorded as being in a poor condition when occupied by a garrison of 14 government troops during the 1715 Jacobite uprising.

The following are photos of the interior, which is not very safe, and I stayed outside trying to imagine what it would have been like about 800 years ago.  Work was carried on consolidating the castle in the second half of the 1800s by the neighbouring estate and again in 1926, but one can’t help, but feel not enough was done.  In 1997 it was sold and that brings us back to changing the castle into a house…..I do hope not, but something does need to be done, if the castle is not to fall into the sea.



Spofforth Castle & Half A Ghost, North Yorkshire

In 2016 we made a few trips to Yorkshire, mainly to Harrogate, but we did visit a few places and drove across some of the moors.  I am sorting through some photos and realised I forgot to post a visit to Spofforth Castle.  This castle was a lovely surprise, we were just driving past what looked like a large grassy field, when I noticed a ruin on the far side of it.  Stop……and stop my dear patient husband did.  It was March, grey and cold, and there was a big padlock on a gate, with a notice from English Heritage saying the castle wasn’t open until the spring.  Really, there were people walking in the field and I noticed that there was another gate that they had used, there were also people at the ruins.  So on we went to explore, well we had come a long way……

Spofforth was owned by the Percys, one of the most powerful Norman families in Northern England.  The first William de Percy who died about 1096, was a favoured companion of William the Conqueror and received large estates in Yorkshire.  Spofforth, originally an Anglo-Saxon manor, was among these. and de Percy made it his family home.

Henry Percy, first Lord Percy 1273 – 1314, was one of Edward I’s leading commanders and was actively involved in the kings Scottish wars.  Percy’s successes brought him estates and influence in the north.  He extended his family house at Spofforth, but soon afterwards, in 1309, he bought Alnwick Castle in Northumberland from the bishop of Durham.  The family’s power base moved north.

During the early 15th century, Spofforth was partly remodelled, probably by the second earl of Northumberland, Henry Percy 1394-1455.  Damaged shortly afterwards, by the 16th century it was largely in ruins.


One interesting little thing that I have found out after our visit, the castle is apparently haunted, by half a ghost, a female person throws herself of the castle ramparts, but only the top half, the bottom stays in what ever realm she has come from.  I must admit I didn’t go up some stairs that were covered over, husband had moved on, so did I, I just didn’t like the idea of going on my own, it just felt so cold.  I am sure it was just the weather, but who knows…….




Huntingdon Castle Hills, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

I am in castle mode at the moment, I am trying to post what castles I have left in my archives, it’s amazing how many are left, I did think I had caught up with them all…….but no, they just seem to grow on their own.  Anyway you do need to have some imagination for this castle, but I have added the notice board, because I needed help with this one when we visited the site back in 2015.  Unfortunately the board was not in very good condition at the time, so I copied the details for the post.  

We are looking at what was Huntingdon Castle, built in 1068 on the orders of William the Conqueror after the Norman invasion.  He needed castles to help him keep military an political control of England.  The inhabitants of Huntingdon may have had to come to the castle to pay taxes to William’s representative.  The Domesday Book states that 20 dwellings were demolished to make way for the castle.  The layout of the surviving earthworks confirms that the castle was a motte an daily type.  It would have been built quickly by soldiers and local forced labour, using wood instead of stone. 

The site is surrounded by a large defensive ditch on three sides and the river on the fourth.  On top of the mott, or mound where the pine trees now stand, would have been a tower and the bailey below you would have been protected by earthen ramparts with wooden palisades on top.  There would also have been a gatehouse to the castle with a drawbridge.  Motte and bailey castles acted as forts during war, but in peacetime served as home for the powerful.  The bailey would have contained the dwellings of those who worked for the castle, barns and pens for animal and storehouses for food.

The castle played an important role in the rebellion against King Henry II in 1174.  At that time it was owed by William I, King of Scotland, who was also the Earl of Huntingdon and who sided with the rebels.  Henry II himself came to Huntingdon, besieged the castle for a month, and then ordered it to be destroyed.

At some point a windmill was built on the top of the motte, where it stood until the end of the 19th century.  The cart track that led up to it, is clearly visible.  Part of the castle grounds then became the garden of Castle Hiull House an some landscaping took place.  Part of the castle site was destroyed when the first railway line was built in 1847.

All the details are from the notice board on site – 28th December 2015

Brougham Castle, Nr Penrith, Cumbria

Adding another castle to my collection, is this castle, one that we pass on every trip to Scotland, while towing our caravan, and of course its a little difficult to park up with a big van.  Last year we got lucky and had two holidays in Scotland 2016, and one was without the caravan, so course we stopped on the way back and explored Brougham Castle, two miles south-east of Penrith in Cumbria, in North West England.

We were lucky, the weather was perfect for castle exploring and we had the whole site to ourselves.  The castle is in a very picturesque setting beside the crossing of the River Eamont in Cumbria, and looking out over the Eden Valley, it was founded in the early 13th century.  The great keep largely survives, amid many later buildings, including the unusual double gatehouse.

This Medieval building was built in the early 13th century, by Robert De Vieuxpont.  The Vieuxponts were a powerful land-owning family in North West England, and also owned the castles of Appleby and Brough.  In 1264, Robert de Vieuxpont’s grandson, also named Robert, was declared a traitor and his property was confiscated by Henry III.  Brougham Castle and the other estates were eventually returned to the Vieuxpont family, and stayed in their possession until 1269 when the estates passed to the Clifford family through marriage.

With the outbreak of the Wars of Scottish Independence in 1296, Brougham became an important military base for Robert Clifford, 1st Baron de Clifford.  He began refortifying the castle, the wooden outer defences were replaced with stronger, more impressive stone walls, and the large stone gatehouse was added.  The importance of Brougham and Roger Clifford was such that in 1300 he hosted Edward I at the castle.  The second Roger Clifford was executed as a traitor in 1322, and the family estates passed into the possession of Edward II, although they were returned once Edward III became king. The region was often at risk from the Scots, and in 1388 the castle was captured and sacked.

After the sacking of the castle, the Cliffords spent more time at their other castles, especially Skipton Castle in Yorkshire.  By 1592 the castle was in a bad state of disrepair, it was briefly restored in the 17th century and James I was entertained there in 1617 .  In 1643 Lady Anne Clifford inherited this castle and also the castles of Appleby and Brough.  At the age of 60, she moved north and set about restoring the castles, plus many churches.  Brougham Castle was kept in good condition for a short time after Lady Anne’s death in 1676, she died at the castle, in the room where her father had been born.  Later The Earl of Thanet who next inherited the castle, sold the furnishings in 1714 and the empty shell was left to decay, as it cost too much to maintain.  The castle then became a romantic ruin and inspired many painters and poets.


The castle was left to the Ministry of Works in the 1930s and is today maintained by its successor, English Heritage.

The Norman Castle of Rochester, Kent

It’s time for another castle, Rochester Castle is located in the town of Rochester on the Medway estuary in Kent, SE England.  Rochester is well known for its connections with Charles Dickens, and also has a splendid Cathedral.   We visited both, Castle and Cathedral, but because I forgot our English Heritage cards, I only took photos of the exterior of the castle, the interior will have to wait until our next visit.


The best way to enter the castle is by the castle gate and climb the steps up into the Bailey, the large green area, in front of the remains of the castle, which is now a public park. 

Some history, Rochester Castle is one of the best preserved and finest examples of Norman architecture in England. Its great keep, square, massive and one of the tallest in the country, measures 113 feet high, 70 feet square and has walls 12 feet thick in places. It was on or close to the present castle site that the Romans built their first fort to guard the bridge carrying their legions over the river on their way from Dover to London and beyond. Centuries later, in 1087, Bishop Gundulf – one of William the Conqueror’s finest architects – began the construction of today’s castle, making use of what remained of the original Roman city walls. The great keep was built by William de Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom Henry I granted custody of the castle in 1127.

The castle has a chequered history, having been subjected to siege three times and in 1215 King John lay siege to the castle and took it after two long months. He finally undermined the south east tower and burned the props with the “fat of forty pigs” causing the tower to collapse. The city was well placed for raids on London and it also enabled them to devastate the lands of Kent, particularly those belonging to Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had crowned Rufus and was therefore Odo’s and the rebels’ enemy.

By the 17th century, the castle had become neglected, the keep had been burned out, and the site was being used as a local quarry for building materials. In 1870 the castle grounds were leased to the City of Rochester, who turned them into a public park and eventually, in the 20th century, responsibility for this imposing old structure was taken over by English Heritage.

You can also see the Cathedral from the castle walls, and that its our next visit.