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Historic England Research Records

Alton Castle

Hob Uid: 305392
Location :
Staffordshire
Staffordshire Moorlands
Alton
Grid Ref : SK0729042453
Summary : Alton Castle was built circa 1175 with evidence of 13th-14th century alterations. The castle was garrisoned and dismantled during the Civil War. The remains of the curtain wall can be traced for almost its full length on the south side of the bailey where it forms, in the main, a revetment to the north rock face of the moat. At the eastern end of the curtain wall is the remains of a 13th century gatehouse. 25m to the west are the remains of a circular wall-tower, the footings of its circular plinth being visible in the floor of the moat. Two fragments of the tower survive where it joined the curtain wall, one containing part of a stairway. West of the tower the curtain wall was probably reconstructed in the 14th century. At the western end of the bailey are the remains of a 14th century gatehouse which probably superseded that already described, and the bases of two apsidal-ended towers are visible flanking a small gateway. The ruined building remains of the curtain wall and moat earthworks are also visible on air photographs and were mapped as part of the Staffordshire National Mapping Programme Project. The features are extant on the latest 2013 vertical photography. Scheduled.
More information : [SK 07284245] CASTLE [G.T.] (Remains of) (1)

Alton Castle .... built about 1175 by Bertram de Verdun. The Alton estate passed in 1316 to the Furnivals and early in the 15th cent. to the Talbots, Earls of Shrewsbury, who sold it in 1924. The remains consist of part of the outer wall and of a tower on it, but the site is now mainly occupied with the buildings of a modern nunnery. (2)

Castle dismantled in the Civil War and a monastery commenced on the site. Now convent with school on other side of the moat. (3)

Alton Castle occupied a strong position at the top of a precipitous cliff overlooking the Churnet Valley. All that remains is a small
oval bailey defended to the south and east by a massive dry moat cut out of the living rock.

The site is now occupied with the buildings and grounds of St. John's Preparatory School: no evidence of internal buildings survives. The curtain wall can be traced for almost its full length on the southside of the bailey where it forms, in the main, a revetment to the north rock face of the moat. At the eastern end of the curtain wall is the remains of a 13th c. gatehouse. It is of two stages with a pointed gateway and arrow-loops: the gateway was probably blocked soon after its construction.

25m to the west is the remains of a circular wall-tower, the footings of its circular plinth being visible in the floor of the moat. Two fragments of the tower survive where it joined the curtain wall, one containing part of a stairway. West of the tower the curtain wall was probably reconstructed in the 14th c. At the western end of the bailey is the remains of a 14th c. gatehouse which probably superseded that already described. The bases of two apsidal-ended towers are visible flanking a small gateway, 1.5m in width, which opened onto thefloor of the moat. A short traverse protects this gateway to the west: it was, therefore, probably a sally-port and not the main entrance. The base of the gatehouse contains three chambers, a passage-way from the sally-port and a flight of stairs.

A fragment of the curtain wall up to 6m in height, but nowhere reaching above the interior of the bailey, survives on the north side incorpoarted in the substructure of the school buildings. It is only
a foot or so thick and secured to the modern wall behind by tiebars. It is pierced by a round-headed arch at SK 07314249, opening onto a narrow ledge on the cliff.

The main school building (centred at SK 07324248) probably occupies the site of the hall or keep.

The remains of the castle are overgrown and in poor condition.

No change. AM Survey correct. The gatehouse is being restored by theDept of the Environment. (4)

References to Civil War garrison at Alton Castle. (5)

The ruined building remains of the curtain wall and moat earthworks are also visible on air photographs centred at SK 0729 4245. The curtain wall, gatehouses, towers and elements of the moat were mapped as part of the Staffordshire National Mapping Programme Project. The remains are extant on the latest 2013 vertical photography. (6)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1924
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Masefield C 1930. Staffordshire, 74.
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Nicholls R, 1933. History of North Staffordhire, 4
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 DJ Clark, 06-Nov-1974
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Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Staffordhire History Club 4th Series 1957. `The Committee at Stafford' (see index)
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Source Number : 6
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : Next Perspectives PGA Imagery SK0742 16-AUG-2010
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Extant
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1175
Monument Type : Castle, Bailey, Moat, Curtain Wall, Gatehouse, Tower
Evidence : Demolished Building, Earthwork, Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : ST 75
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 12002
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Staffordshire)
External Cross Reference Number : MST92
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SK 04 SE 16
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SK 04 SE 16
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1958-04-14
End Date : 1958-04-14
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SK 04 SE 16
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1974-11-16
End Date : 1974-11-16
Associated Activities : Primary, ALTON CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT ALTON CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT ALTON CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STAFFORDSHIRE NMP PHASE 1 EASTERN RIVER CONFLUENCES
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2013-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31