Penrith and the Eden Valley were once at the heart of defensive borderlands between Scotland and England where local family feuds were rampant. This once volatile area has left a legacy of castles around Penrith built to defend the area against the Scots including the central Penrith Castle ruins and nearby Brougham Castle.
The striking ruins of Penrith Castle are located in Penrith town centre and are surrounded by a charming public Castle Park which was laid out in the 1920s. A mix of periods and styles, Penrith Castle was constructed by Ralph Neville in the 14th century to defend the Penrith border area from the Scots.
The site is thought to have been formally the location of a Roman fort. Much later Penrith Castle was extensively developed as a luxurious home by the then Duke of Gloucester who went on to become Richard III. Richard was in residence here in Penrith Castle as High Sheriff of Cumberland from 1471 to 1485 and his connection to the ruins make them all the more fascinating.
The spectacular ruins of Brougham Castle, also a castle built for defence against the Scots, are located just less than 2 miles south east of Penrith, easily accessible off the A66. Brougham Castle dates from the early 13th century and its vast castle keep remains largely intact as does the gatehouse and the striking 'Tower of League'.
The beauty of Brougham Castle ruins are enhanced by its setting in the heart of the Eden Valley countryside and this is a superb castle for children with endless tunnels, passages and winding staircases to explore. Brougham Castle is famously associated with the Elizabethan Lady Anne Clifford who documented her life and struggle in diaries to secure her inheritance, including Brougham Castle.
The Countess Pillar monument erected by Anne Clifford in 1656 in memory of her mother is situated close to Brougham Castle. The monument site is where Anne had her last meeting with her mother before her death.