Castleton History

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Castleton is an outstandingly pretty village situated at the head of the lovely Vale of Hope, in the heart of the Derbyshire Peak District National Park. It is surrounded on 3 sides by steep hills and the mighty bulk of Mam Tor looms high, 2 miles to the north west of the village. On a hill, overlooking Castleton, is the ancient Peveril Castle.

The Celts were the first peple to settle in the area. On Mamtor, also known as the shivering mountain, are the remains of a Celtic hill fort on summit, an enclosure of 16 acres at an altitude of 1700ft. The Celts were displaced by the Romans who started mining the rich lead viens, bringing prosperity to the area. Shortly after 1066, William the Conquerer started building castles all over the country and the one at Castleton was given to his son,William Peveril in 1086, and so became Peveril Castle. The keep was added later, in 1176. It never saw battle and was occupied as a dwelling until 1480. The village grew up under the protection of the castle.

Castleton has 4 underground show caves, all worth a visit, for their own interesting features. These are Blue John Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, Treak Cliff Cavern and Peak Cavern.

Blue John Cavern and Treak Cliff contain the treasured, pretty blue and yellow fluorspar called Blue John. It was first mined at Treak Cliff and by 1770, 16 mines were extracting the stone and selling it to several firms in Derbyshire who turned it into ornaments, vases, clocks and jewellry. Blue John is only found in this area of Britain, andsmall pieces of the mineral are still plentiful, large pieces are now rare.

Peak Cavern is the source of the village river, Peakshole Water and as such it is the only Cavern that has to be closed during the winter due to flooding. In the mouth of the cave, the largest in Britain, rope makers use to live and work. Their cottages have been demolished but ‘rope walks’ are still to be found. The show cave is only part of a much larger cave system which attracts cavers from all over the world.

Speedwell Cavern is special because the main workings and its ‘bottomless pit’ can only be reached by boat along an underground canal.

Oak Apple Day, the 29th May, has been celebrated as Castleton Garland Day for many a year. It is a time of considerable pageantry with people dressing in Stuart fashions and choosing a King and a Queen for the day. They lead a procession through the village, the King covered in a great cone of flowers. Girls dance and everyone welcomes in the summer.

Aside from the castle, some of the older buildings in the village are the Castle Hotel, one of 6 pubs, dating back to the 17th century and Castleton Hall, a fine 17th house, now a Youth Hostel.

St Edmunds Church may originally have been a garrison church to the castle. It has a broad Norman Chancel Arch, Perp west tower, ashlar faced with diagonal buttresses, battlements and eight pinnacles. It was heavily restored in 1837 when the aisle was removed. It contains some excellently preserved Box pews from the 17th century with dates on.

Castleton has a lot to offer visitors in terms of interest and history and has always attracted many visitors