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Name:Peveril Castle, Castleton
HER No.:3325
Type of Record:Monument


Castle first documented in 1086 and reaching its height in the 13th century. In the 14th century it was used as a prison, but by the 17th century the castle was in ruins.

Grid Reference:SK 149 826

Monument Types

  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Saxon to Post Medieval - 410 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CASTLE (Saxon to Post Medieval - 410 AD to 1650 AD)
  • DITCH (Saxon to Post Medieval - 410 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PRISON (Medieval - 1300 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds

  • FDR13139 - AXE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)

Associated Events

  • EDR1037 - Ordnance Survey Field Report, 12-MAR-62
  • EDR1128 - Ordnance Survey Field Report, 15-SEP-65
  • EDR51 - Unnamed Event
  • EDR3456 - Archaeological watching briefs, Peveril Castle, by Trent & Peak, in 1993
  • EDR3680 - Archaeological field survey, land at Aston Hall, by PDNPA, in 1992

Full Description

Part of a Neolithic polished axe of fine volcanic rock was found in 1936, during excavations at Peveril Castle. (2) It is probably Group VI (Gt. Langdale), and was found 9 ft. (3m) from the south wall of the great hall. (4)

In 1935 a number of pieces of worked stone were found in Cave Dale which had fallen from the castle. They included pieces with chevron carvings and mouldings. In 1947 the stones were photographed and moved into long grass for partial concealment. On a visit in January 1957 there were only a few pieces still to be seen. (3)

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. (5)

Outer defences are completely natural save for one stretch of bank and ditch, centred SK 1484 8235. See G.P. AO/62/83/8. Surveyed at 1/2500. See Ministry of Works pamphlet where this scheduled ancient monument is described with a plan. (6)

Peveril Castle is the only castle mentioned in Domesday Book in North Derbyshire. (11)

The Peveril Castle Outer Bailey comprises a large bank with outer rock-cut ditch, each 80m long, enclosing an irregular area of sloping land measuring c. 40x80m across. It is separated from the castle by a natural gully with shallow cliffs, which runs the full c. 50m between the cliff of Cave Dale and that above the cavern. The rampart is of simple dump construction and is now broken in three places. The central break is an original entrance. The other two breaks may be later disturbances as they coincide with drystone walls, although as the northern one is below the crest of a steep slope it may have never beena rampart and simply had a wooden palisade. Much of the ground within the outer bailey is too steep to have contained buildings, the only exceptions being a small area below the terraced track and a narrow area on the crest of the slope to the south. Building footings reported at the second location reported by Hart (8) were not observed during this survey. The castle was built by William Peveril between 1066 and 1086 and passed back to the Crown in 1155 when William's son was dispossessed for poisoning the earl of Chester. The castle was remodelled in stone in the late 11th or early 12th century . The keep was not built until 1176 and it overlay the site of the west gate, which left only one gate to the castle in the northern curtain wall after this date. Presumably the outer bailey fell out of use at this time or had been abandoned previously. The castle as a whole fell out of use after the 14th century. (12)

The scheduled area was extended in 1992. It includes both the standing remains of the castle, consisting primarily of the square keep and a curtain wall, and the outer bailey which lies to the south-west. The castle was already present in 1086 and is one of the few built from the outset in stone. The north wall, although much repaired and altered, still contains 11th century sections. The keep, which was constructed in 1176, stands almost to its original height. It was a primarily defensive feature, entered from the first floor, and as the castle had fallen into disuse by the 15th century, was not adapted to domestic use. The outer bailey was connected with the inner bailey via a bridge, the masonry abutment for which can still be seen in the ditch below the keep. (13)

The castle was present in some form in 1086, as it is referred to in Domesday Book. It was probably built of stone, although it may have been originally timber and remodelled later in stone. The keep was constructed in 1176 and during the 13th century other additions were constructed. The castle declined in importance from the 14th century, although it was used as a prison for a time (7). Masons repaired the walls and bridge in 1435-1436 (13). The castle appears to have been in ruins by the 17th century, although repairs were occasionally carried out by the Duchy of Lancaster until it was put into the care of the then Office of Works in 1932. Standing remains consist of the keep, a curtain wall enclosing the bailey, the north wall, a masonry abutment for the bridge and the banks. Excavation in the courtyard revealed portions of walls and buildings of various dates and possibly the mid 13th century hall. In 1993, Trent and Peak carried out three watching briefs, although nothing of archaeological interest was recorded. (14)

<1> Kirke, H, 1906, 'Peveril's Castle in the Peak', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal (Article in serial). SDR8153.

<2> Jackson, J W, 1936, The Naturalist (Article in serial). SDR7971.

<3> Himsworth, J, 1956, 'Peveril Castle stones, Castleton', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, p 66 (Article in serial). SDR7156.

<4> Preston, F L, 1956, Transcript Hunter Index (Index). SDR15480.

<5> F1 RL 12-MAR-62 (Personal Observation). SDR6429.

<6> F2 FRH 15-SEP-65 (Personal Observation). SDR6589.

<7> F1 FRH 15-SEP-65 (Personal Observation). SDR6312.

<8> Blanchard, I S W, 1967, Economic Change in Derbyshire in the Late Middle Ages 1272-1540 (Bibliographic reference). SDR20410.

<9> O'Neil, B and White, P, 1979, DOE Peveril Castle Guidebook (Bibliographic reference). SDR5430.

<10> NDAT, 0594 (Index). SDR14410.

<11> Hart, C (NDAT), 1981, The North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500, p 148 (Bibliographic reference). SDR10777.

<12> Barnatt, J (PDNPA), 1992, Aston Hall, land at Castleton, Derbyshire, archaeological survey, 1992, No. 1, p 1 (Unpublished document). SDR20408.

<13> English Heritage, 1992, Peveril Castle, 11th to 14th century tower keep castle, Cat. No. 79 (Scheduling record). SDR12479.

<14> Stroud, G, 2002, Extensive Urban Survey: Castleton - Archaeological Assessment Report., pp 15-16 (Unpublished document). SDR19488.

<15> Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA), Slide Collection, 3325.1-14 (Photograph). SDR18971.

<16> Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA), Black and white photograph collection, 410.1A, 446.13 (Photograph). SDR18970.

Sources and Further Reading

[1]SDR8153 - Article in serial: Kirke, H. 1906. 'Peveril's Castle in the Peak', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 28, pp 134-146.
[2]SDR7971 - Article in serial: Jackson, J W. 1936. The Naturalist. Vol. 11.
[3]SDR7156 - Article in serial: Himsworth, J. 1956. 'Peveril Castle stones, Castleton', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 76, p 66, illust.. p 66.
[4]SDR15480 - Index: Preston, F L. 1956. Transcript Hunter Index. No.2, F/88.
[5]SDR6429 - Personal Observation: F1 RL 12-MAR-62.
[6]SDR6589 - Personal Observation: F2 FRH 15-SEP-65.
[7]SDR6312 - Personal Observation: F1 FRH 15-SEP-65.
[8]SDR20410 - Bibliographic reference: Blanchard, I S W. 1967. Economic Change in Derbyshire in the Late Middle Ages 1272-1540.
[9]SDR5430 - Bibliographic reference: O'Neil, B and White, P. 1979. DOE Peveril Castle Guidebook.
[10]SDR14410 - Index: NDAT. 0594.
[11]SDR10777 - Bibliographic reference: Hart, C (NDAT). 1981. The North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500. p 148.
[12]SDR20408 - Unpublished document: Barnatt, J (PDNPA). 1992. Aston Hall, land at Castleton, Derbyshire, archaeological survey, 1992. No. 1, p 1.
[13]SDR12479 - Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1992. Peveril Castle, 11th to 14th century tower keep castle. 13268. Cat. No. 79.
[14]SDR19488 - Unpublished document: Stroud, G. 2002. Extensive Urban Survey: Castleton - Archaeological Assessment Report.. pp 15-16.
[15]SDR18971 - Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 3325.1-14.
[16]SDR18970 - Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Black and white photograph collection. 410.1A, 446.13.