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Historic England Research Records

Peveril Castle

Hob Uid: 309632
Location :
Derbyshire
High Peak
Castleton
Grid Ref : SK1494082600
Summary : Peveril Castle, also known as Peveril or Castleton Castle, comprises the ruins of a medieval keep and associated buildings predominantly dating from the 11th to the 14th century. Construction of the castle began sometime between 1066 and 1086. Among the first of the Norman castles to be built in England after the Conquest, the land was granted to William Peveril, who was thought to have been an illegitimate son of William I and one of his most trusted knights. The castle stands in an impregnable position on a cliff top above the town of Castleton, but predates the town by about 100 years. The square keep and part of the curtain wall are still standing and the outer bailey is still visible. Part of the north wall dates from the 11th century, but the remainder is 12th to 14th century. The castle fell into disuse during the early 15th century and was never adapted for domestic use. Only the keep was in use by the 17th century as a courthouse. When this was abandoned the castle gradually became ruined until restoration work during the 20th century. The stone keep survives almost to its full height. Inside the courtyard it is possible to trace the foundations of a Great Hall, kitchens and other domestic buildings. The castle forms the backdrop to Sir Walter Scott's novel "Peveril of the Peak". The site was placed in the custody of the Office of Works in 1932 and in subsequently passed to the Department of the Environment. Since 1984 it has been in the care of English Heritage.
More information : SK 1494 8260: Peveril Castle [GT] (remains of) [TI.]. (1)

Earthworks surveyed at 1:2500. Castle ditch to be supplied by field surveyor. See GP AO/62/83/8 for south west aspect of castle ditch and keep. (2)

SK 1484 8235: Outer defences are completely natural save for one stretch of bank and ditch. See GP AO/62/83/8. Surveyed at 1:2500.

Peveril Castle: See Ministry of Works pamphlet. This scheduled ancient monument is described with plan. (3)

Additional reference. (4)

SK 1492 8263: Peveril Castle 11th to 14th century tower keep castle. The monument comprises standing remains of the castle along the terraced hillside leading to the north-east gate and the site of the outer bailey and access to the main south-west gate. The standing remains consist primarily of the square keep and a curtain wall enclosing a roughly triangular inner bailey measuring circa 100 metres by 60 metres. The north wall, although much repaired and altered, still contains 11th century sections, though the remainder of the curtain is 12th century. The keep, which stands to its original height and is also 12th century, was originally entered at first floor level. It is a primarily defensive feature and, as the castle had fallen into disuse by the 15th century, was not adapted to domestic use. It therefore remained a simple structure with only one floor above the entrance level and a basement floor below. Its main function was to guard the south-west gate into the inner bailey. This was reached from the outer bailey via a bridge which, during the Middle Ages, spanned the intervening gorge. A masonry abutment for the bridge can be seen in the ditch below the keep. The outer bailey lies to the south-west where a bank and ditch forms the western boundary of a triangular enclosure, measuring circa 80 metres by 60 metres, where cattle, horses and people would have been housed. The
bank contains the remains of a defensive wall and a gap approximately midway along it shows where the 'Earl's Road' entered the castle from the south-west at its main point of access. Scheduled RSM no. 13268. (5)

Peveril Castle curtain walls and fragmentary foundations built late 11th century, 12th century and early 13th century. North and west curtain walls have some herringbone masonry. Building remains include the northwest angle hall and domestic buildings in the southeast corner which may have included a chapel. The keep was built in 1176. The castle is square in plan with angle and central buttresses partly extant. It has narrow round-headed windows to the ground floor while the upper floors have larger windows. The remains of a spiral staircase can be seen in the northeast angle. (6)

Peveril Castle stands in an impregnable position on a clifftop above Castleton flanked by the steep side of Cavedale. It bears the name of William Peveril who was granted the title of Bailiff of the Royal Manors of the Peak, in effect the King's agent for the Royal Forest of the Peak, after 1066. Peveril is thought to have been the illegitimate son of William I. Peveril created Castleton and in 1080 he fortified the site of the present castle and contructed a wooden keep. Later these buildings were converted into stone. However Peveril's son, also called William, became too independent for Henry II and in 1155, the King confiscated the Peveril estates. The castle is now in the care of English Heritage and is open to the public.

The castle fell into disuse after Tudor times and by the 17th century only the keep was in use as a courthouse. When this was abandoned the castle gradually became ruined until what remained was restored this century. The Castleton entrance leads in through the remains of a gatehouse which was built in the 12th century and into the main courtyard. Around this is the remains of a curtain wall which was constructed during the early Norman period and includes Roman tiles which it is thought were taken from the ruins of the Roman fort at Navio (Brough). (7)

A spectacular view of the Peak District can be viewed from the remains of Peveril Castle, which is perched above the dramatic Peak Cavern Gorge on the south side of Castleton 15 miles west of Sheffield. This was one of England's first Norman forts, its massive walls made famous by Sir Walter Scott in "Peveril of the Peak".(8)

Owned by William Peveril, a knight of William the Conqueror, this is one of the first castles built after the Norman Conquest. The triangular site of Peveril Castle, located high on a ridge with precipitous sides, was likely to have been chosen for its natural strength, being both reasonably inaccessible and easily defendable.

Although the castle is now largely ruinous and fragmented, with only the keep surviving to any height, the site provides an insight into the difficulties of building a fortification on ground of such uneven levels. Parts of the curtain wall along the north of the site where the earliest period of building took place are still standing today. However the curtain wall along the southern boundary, completed in the 12th century, has virtually disappeared. A craggy section of the original gatehouse, or town gate, still exists and dates from the mid to late 12th century. Within the inner bailey, foundations can be found of various residential buildings. South of the site is a low brick wall which is all that remains of the 12th century great hall. This was replaced by a later larger hall opposite the keep along the northern edge of the north curtain wall. There are remains of a fireplace dating from 13th century.

Henry II was responsible for building the keep in the 1170s. The castle saw a succession of royal kings and queens but in the late 14th century, it was granted to John of Gaunt in exchange for the earldom of Richmond and Peveril became part of the Duchy of Lancaster. However on John's death, his son, who became Henry IV, inherited the castle and it became part of the Crown estate. By this time the building was considered too uncomfortable to reside at and slowly the apartments were demolished, with only the keep being retained to serve as a courthouse. From hereon, Peveril Castle was left unoccupied and rapid deterioration occured until the early 19th century when the Duchy accepted responsibility for necessary repairs and renovation work.(9)

Founded by William Peveril, one of William the Conqueror's most trusted knights, Peveril Castle stands above the town of Castleton, and precedes the town by about 100 years, guarding the Peak Forest lead-mining area. The entrance presently used was originally the back entrance as the main gate was previously beside the keep. The earliest remaining parts include the north wall and part of the chapel and old hall. Parts of the chapel and south curtain wall were built in the early 12th century and the keep, old hall and gatehouse were built during the late 12th century, when the castle had passed back to the Crown under Henry II. William Peveril's son inherited in 1114, along with other lands including Bolsover, but due to his involvement in the civil war during King Stephen's reign, he forfeited the castle at Peveril once Henry had succeeded.

Henry visited Peveril, then known as "The Castle of the Peak", on several occasions, notably in 1157, when he received the homage of Malcolm IV of Scotland. In 1183-4 repairs were made to the bridge across to the keep on the north side and the keep was garrisoned. Through the succeeding reigns of Richard I and John, the castle was maintained in good repair and in 1216 it saw its only real action. The Constable at Peak, Brian de Lisle, held the castle in despite of the King, but was forced under arms by William de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, to give it up.

Henry III also visited the castle and further repairs were made during the 13th century. It is assumed that the New Hall was built during this period. The castle was granted to his son Edward, later the king, and then to Edward's wife, Eleanor of Castile, in 1272. Simon de Montfort briefly owned Peveril but it passed back to the Crown after his rebellion and death. Edward II granted Peveril to his lover Piers Gaveston in 1308 and then to John de Warenne. King Edward III granted Peveril to his son, John of Gaunt. By the early 15th century the castle had become too old-fashioned for comfortable residence and obsolete in terms of defence and was partly dismantled. (10)

NMR aerial photography.(11-13)

Listed by Colvin with its history. (14)

The castle described above and a probable medieval earthwork bank within the boundary wall are visible on air photographs, centred at SK 1493 8262 and approximately 65m in length. The bank forms terraced ground within the castle. Remains of the outer bailey (UID 1512508) and Earl's road, the access route to the castle (UID 1506981), are visible to the west. The features appear to be extant on the latest EARTH.GOOGLE.COM photography accessed 29-SEP-2009.
(15)

A calendar roll entry for 1228 has been previously taken to refer to Perlethorpe in Nottinghamshire but could refer to Peveril. It reads: "Eodem modo scribitur constabulariis castrorum de Peverelthorp, Appelby, Bruham, Burgh, que fuerunt ipsius Eoberti, liberanda predictis Willelmo et Gileberto". This appears to refer to a major royal castle. (16-17)

According to the current guidebook (2006) for Peveril Castle, there is no evidence to suggest that a timber castle was the first structure on the site. Instead, Peveril Castle was built of stone from the outset. Construction began sometime between 1066 and 1086.

The site was placed in the custody of the Office of Works in 1932 and in subsequently passed to the Department of the Environment. Since 1984 it has been in the care of English Heritage. Among the castle's ruins are the remains of the north curtain wall, the east gate, chapel, new hall, west range, old hall, west gate and south wall. See guidebook for photographs, plans, illustrations and further historical details. (18)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1955
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Source Number : 2
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 RL 12-MAR-1962
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Source Number : 11
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : SK 1482/1, 158-9, SK 1482/2, 160-1, 29-MAR-1977
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Source Number : 12
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : SK 1482/3-12, 30-JUN-1976, A L Pacitto
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Source Number : 13
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : SK 1482/13/19, 06-JUN-1976, D N Riley
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Source Number : 14
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 776-777
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Source Number : 15
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SK 1482-22 NMR 2410-25 28-OCT-1988
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Source Number : 16
Source : Calendar of Patent Rolls
Source details : Years 1225-32, pp176-177
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Source Number : 17
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Castles historian Philp Davis, PastScape comments log 13-DEC-2010
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Source Number : 18
Source : Peveril Castle
Source details :
Page(s) : 20
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Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 FRH 15-SEP-1965
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Source Number : 4
Source : Peveril Castle [Derbyshire]
Source details : DOE guidebook 1979 (B H St J O'Neil and P R White)
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Source Number : 5
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 06-Apr-92
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Source Number : 6
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : High Peak, 17-APR-1985
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Vol(s) : 212
Source Number : 7
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Peak District Multimedia Guide (abridged)
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Source Number : 8
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Peveril Castle, AboutBritain.com website
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Source Number : 9
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Peveril Castle, The Heritage Trail, 1998-2003 (website)
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Source Number : 10
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Peveril Castle, Castleton, Derbyshire. UK Heritage (website)
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built 1066-1086
Monument End Date : 1086
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Keep And Bailey Castle, Curtain Wall, Bank (Earthwork)
Evidence : Ruined Building, Earthwork, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 12th century
Monument End Date : 1200
Monument Start Date : 1101
Monument Type : Keep And Bailey Castle, Great Hall, Domestic Chapel, Gatehouse, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Demolished Building, Ruined Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 13th century
Monument End Date : 1300
Monument Start Date : 1201
Monument Type : Great Hall, Kitchen
Evidence : Demolished Building, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Repaired in 1251
Monument End Date : 1251
Monument Start Date : 1251
Monument Type : Keep, Gatehouse, Bakehouse
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Disused by early 15th century
Monument End Date : 1432
Monument Start Date : 1400
Monument Type : Keep And Bailey Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : 17th century
Monument End Date : 1700
Monument Start Date : 1601
Monument Type : Keep, Court House
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1010829
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1250966
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : DR 79
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 13268
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 82553
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 68
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Derbyshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 3325
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SK 18 SW 15
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1512508
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1506981
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, PEVERIL CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1935-01-01
End Date : 1938-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SK 18 SE 49
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1962-03-12
End Date : 1962-03-12
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SK 18 SE 49
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-09-15
End Date : 1965-09-15
Associated Activities : Primary, PEVERIL CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1989-01-01
End Date : 1989-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, PEVERIL CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE:DERBYSHIRE AND PEAK DISTRICT AGGREGATES ASSESSMENT NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2009-05-05
End Date : 2010-06-15