Castleton Historical Society has been involved in archaeological projects since 2007 when they applied for a Heritage Lottery Grant to precisely locate Castleton’s medieval hospital (variously known as e.g. the Hospital of Castleton in the Peak and the Hospital of Blessed Mary at Castleton). To begin with, the project involved geophysics with the aim of locating signals beneath the surface of the field that might be interpreted as the remains of walls, ditches, etc. However, as the hospital proved to be elusive, the project evolved quite rapidly into a dig, which since 2010 when the first walls were found has become more and more fascinating.

Medieval Hospitals

Nearly 500 hospitals and almshouses were founded in England before 1300, many of them for the poor and infirm of the parish.
While larger hospitals in the cities probably had access to medical care, the sick poor in small rural hospitals were mainly provided with “bed rest, cleanliness and an adequate diet”. Needy travellers were often welcomed to stay for a night or two. Hospital inmates would have been required to participate in the daily round of religious services and prayers and the care of the soul was at least as important as the care of the body.

Hospital of St Mary in the Peak

The hospital in Castleton was probably founded before 1150 for the sick and poor, reputedly by the wife of one of the William Peverils and it was still in existence at the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1540s.  Some earthworks in Spital Field opposite the entrance to Losehill Hall were scheduled as the site of the hospital in 1999.
In 2007 Castleton Historical Society was awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a community project to locate the hospital.

For a few more details of the work and findings up to 2010, read the following document


Find out more about this project on the specific tab.

More recently, other archaeological work has gone on in Castleton village and in the neighbouring village of Hope. This has included:

  • HEFA (Higher Education Field Academy) test pitting in 2008-9 (Castleton).
  • Medieval lives of the Common People of Castleton and Hope (joint project between Castleton and Hope Historical Societies), which involved documentary research, test pitting and landscape archaeology.
  • New Hall – according to documentary evidence dating from the 16th century, this is a new target for Castleton Historical Society (exploratory test pits and small trenches suggest this will be an exciting site to investigate).
  • Further test pitting on the western side of the village – this is generating some interesting findings.