History of Castleton
Let me tell you some of the history of Castleton. It is a beautiful village in the heart of the Peak District. It was first home to the Celts. The ruins of a Celtic hill fort are still able to be found on the nearby hill of Mamtor.
The area eventually became prosperous through lead mining, thanks to the Romans.
In fact, Odin Mine, one of the oldest lead mines in England can be found near Castleton. The mine is thought to have been used by the Romans, Saxons and Danes with production at the mine stopping as late as 1869!
Castleton means ‘town of the castle’.
The village was officially founded in 1086 after the building of Peveril Castle, named by the builder William Peveril, son of William the Conqueror.
Only two English Castles were built in natural defensive positions, one was the Castle of the Peake, the other was Corfe Castle in Dorset.
The Castle of the Peake only became known as Peveril Castle after Walter Scott published his book “Peveril of the Peak” in the 19th century and by that time the Castle was a ruin.
William the Conqueror started a program of castle building after his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
These castles were built around the whole country to pacify and control the population; Peveril Castle being one.
The Castle of the Peake was lived in until 1480. Robert Fulove emptied the Castle in 1530. It was then used as a courthouse until 1560.
After 1560 the Castle was left derelict. Not all was lost, the ruins of the Castle underwent a period of restoration in the 1930’s and were made safe for the public.
Every year Castleton hosts Garland Day on the 29th of May (unless that’s a Sunday, then it’s held on the Saturday).
It used to be celebrated across the country as Royal Oak or Oak Apple Day, which commemorated the restoration of King Charles II to the throne in 1660. Today, if you decide to visit for this event, you will be able to see the King and his consort parade through the village in Stuart costume, as the music plays.
The Garland King is usually on horseback, and covered to the waist in a heavy, bell-shaped floral Garland, leads a procession through the village. The Garland is presumably meant to represent the oak tree in which he hid after the Battle of Worcester.
And then of course there are the caverns!
Probably what Castleton is most known for these days. It is home to 4 caverns; Blue John Cavern, Treak Cliff Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, and Peak Cavern. Here is a little bit of history about the caverns.
Blue John Cavern is home to Britain’s rarest mineral, first discovered at Castleton by the Romans almost 2000 years ago. The worlds only known deposits of this extremely rare and beautiful stone have been found in Castleton to date.
Treak Cavern also contains this rare mineral. The cavern was exposed by miners during the 1700s. There are two series of caverns within Treak Cliff, firstly the outer series, which was the one exposed by miners during the 1700s and contains some attractive areas of Blue John stone.
Speedwell Cavern is found at the foot of Winnat’s Pass, just over half a mile from the centre of the village of Castleton, steps lead down from the entrance to the canal, which was hacked through rock by miners in search of lead in the 1770s.
The last one being the Peak Cavern. It is said it was used by thieves, who had a secret language that was used by beggars and wrong doers.
Tell me more about this…
It is said that this language was devised in 1530, by a meeting by the leader of the rogues and the King of the Gypsies, although this could also be a Castleton legend!
When Peak Cavern was excavated, houses were found inside the cave mouth, and it is known that the cavern was home to Britain’s last troglodytes.
I know you are thinking, what are they? Well, they are people who set up home inside dens or caves, until approximately 1915!
That’s all for now…
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Laura and James
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