Castleton History

The village of Castleton developed as a planned settlement in the 12th century with the arrival of the Normans and the building of Peveril Castle to house guests for hunting in the Royal Forest of the Peak.

brigantia text

A number of interesting and informative articles have been written by members of the CHS on the history of the Village covering such diverse subjects as eighteenth century murders, medieval tournaments, the Ancient Garland ceremony and Brigantia, the goddess of the Celtic tribe which inhabited a site on Mam Tor.   These articles are available by clicking the links below and more will be added as new articles become available so keep visiting to explore more of Castleton’s history.

Carved head, dating from about 1000BC & believed to be Brigantia, the Celtic fertility god, which was found in a garden wall. The image has been adopted as the CHS logo.

The Brigantes and the Mam Tor Settlement
Over 3000 years ago a “splinter group” of Celts left their tribe in Northumbria and came to Mam Tor where they built their settlement, enclosing about 16.5 acres within double earthworks. Some of these earthworks are still clearly visible on the north east side of Mam Tor.

A Tournament at Peveril Castle
Knights from all parts of the country compete for the hand of the beautiful daughter of William Peveril.

Treak Cliff Cavern & Rainwater
The photo shows the stalactites in Dream Cave, Treak Cliff Cavern. In Treak Cliff Cavern, the average rate of growth of stalactites is about 1 mm every 65 years. Radio Carbon Dating suggests the formations in the Cavern are about 111 thousand years old.

The Carboniferous Limestone Rock
The carboniferous limestone rock of the White Peak of Derbyshire is about 350 million years old and made from the limey shells, bones and secretions of marine life.

The Ancient Castleton Garland Ceremony
The garland ceremony has a number of elements and some of its origins may go back to Celtic festivals that celebrate the rebirth of nature after its winter sleep.

The Hospital of the Blessed Mary of Castleton in the Peak
“Early documents give an fascinating insight into life at the hospital … John, Duke of Lancaster, confirmed the grant … by which he gave to the warden of the hospital pasture for a mare and its foals and eight oxen …”

The Garland in the 21st Century
Traditionally the Garland was made at the “Host Pub” from where the Procession started. From about 1989 until 2006 the Garland was made in the barn in Mill Lane. The recent move to the open-sided glass shelters at the Castleton Centre has enabled many more people, visitors and locals alike, to watch the Garland being made.

Murder in the Winnats Pass

“In 1758 and young gentleman and lady came out of Scotland on an expedition and were robbed and murdered at a place called the Winnats, near Castleton. News” 28 April 1788.

Their bones were found in 1768 by some miners sinking an engine pit. …” From the Derby News” 28 April 1788.

Memories of Castleton Garland

This article by Jessie Hall was first published in Peveril Post in May 1995.


Finding Treak Cliff Cavern
In 1923, miners digging for fluorspar on Treak Cliff discovered a small chamber containing human bones.  Expert examination later established that this was a late Neolithic family burial about 5500 years old.  Three years later, 5 miners blasted through into an unknown cavern. This document is a transcript of a taped conversation with Jack Beverley of Castleton describing the day Treak Cliff Cavern was found.

Schools and Schooling in Castleton: 1687 -18643


The Bagshawe family of “The Oakes” at Norton, Sheffield were the pioneers of schooling in Castleton.  The photo shown is of Castleton School, probably in 1912, with Frank Eyre as headmaster.


George Herbert Bridges Ward:  Rambler Extraordinaire
George Herbert Ward (Bert) was born in Sheffield in 1876.  He believed that land should be free for all to enjoy lawfully and campaigned successfully for access to huge tracts of land in the Peak District. He was awarded an honorary MA degree by Sheffield University in 1957.

“No man could have worked more tirelessly for the preservation and accessibility of our countryside heritage and especially of the incomparable Peakland. No man … could have done more … to foster the true spirit of rambling.” Sheffield University Public Orator

Limestone Rock in Derbyshire’s White Peak
How the limestone of the White Peak was formed from calcium deposits created by billions of marine animals when the Britain was a small part of a great reef in warmer seas 350 million years ago.

Mam Tor: the Shivering Mountain
The face of Mam Tor which overlooks the Village of Castleton was scarred by a massive landslide about four thousand years ago.  The volume of the landslip is roughly estimated at about 15 million cubic metres of slipped debris weighing in the region of 45 million tonnes.  This article examines the causes and consequences of this geological event.

Odin circle weblge

Odin Mine
Odin (or Oden) mine is the oldest documented lead mine in Derbyshire and is thought to be one of the oldest mines in England.

Blue John Stone
At the western end of the Hope Valley, between Winnats Pass and Mam Tor is a steeply sloping hill. This is Treak Cliff, the only place in the world where the rare and beautiful mineral Blue John has been found. Treak Cliff is made of limestone rock from the Carboniferous period and is around 359 million years old. Blue John is about 290 years old. Follow the link above for more of its fascinating story.

Castleton’s Squire: Robert How Ashton Junior
Follow the link above for the story of the man affectionately known as “Squire Ashton”.

Randolf Douglas and the Douglas Museum
As Randini, Randolf Douglas performed as an escapologist but he is also remembered as the creator of the Douglas Museum, acclaimed as a “cabinet of curiosities”, a “House of Wonders”. Follow the link above to read his full story.