The remains of Peveril Castle stand high above Castleton Village, Derbyshire, and, once climbed, offers unbeatable views of Castleton, the Hope Valley, and beyond. The Castle is the namesake of its founder and original resident, William Peverel, who is thought to have been the illegitimate child of William the Conqueror. Cared for by English Heritage, Peveril Castle is one of the oldest Norman fortresses found in Britain, and it is estimated to have been built some time between the Norman Conquest of 1066 and the writing of the Domesday Survey in 1086.
Given its age, much of the original keep lies in ruins today, and is thus blocked off to the general public; however, the parts of the ruin deemed safe enough for visitors is sure to fascinate, which includes ancient chambers, rooms, and even a intact medieval toilet. Throughout the castle, highly informative information boards can be found, which colourfully illustrate the story of William Peverel, the history of the fort, and the many people who lived in or defended Peverel Castle during its time of activity.
The onsite Visitor Centre provides extra information on the history of the site through interactive boards, and is the location of a small gift shop, which sells books, toys, and dressing-up outfits. There is no restaurant or café on site, but the visitor centre can provide soft drinks and ice cream, and there is a small picnic area located outside.
Some time after the Norman Conquest of 1066, William the Conqueror granted prolific knight, William Peverel, significant lands located in the Hope Valley, which had been seized from the Saxons. He initially started building a fort of earth and timber upon the site of Peverel, but quickly adapted it into a stone castle. Benefited by the sheer drops into Cavern Gorge and Cave Dale on either side, Peveril was naturally fortified, and thus a highly secure castle. The nearby town of Castletown slowly developed over time, mainly to serve the castle, and Peverel later turned the settlement into the economic centre of his lands.
Upon the death of Peverel in 1114, his son, also named William Peverel, initially inherited the castle and surrounding lands; however, during the Anarchy, Peveril Castle was captured and fell into the hands of newly ascended ruler, Henry II. Henry II, although he never stayed at Peveril long-term, was known to frequent it over the course of his rulership, and most notably hosted Malcolm IV of Scotland at the castle in 1157. Henry extended the castle significantly during his tenure, adding the keep in 1176 and strengthening the defensive walls.
The Earl of Derby, Robert Ferris, had long been making claims for the castle, having married the daughter of William Peverel, Margaret Peverel, and procuring ownership of most other castles in the area. He was granted Peveril in 1216 by King John, however, the guardian of the castles, Brian de Lisle, declined to hand Ferris the keys, leading to Ferris’ besiegement of Bolsover. Ferris was eventually granted lordship of both Bolsover and Peveril the following year. Despite the difficulty Ferris experienced in procuring the castle, he lost it to the Crown again in 1223.
Peveril was kept by the Crown for over 150 years after that and was mainly used as a base for mining operations in the district. The castle was passed on to richest nobleman in the country at the time, Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt, in 1372; Gaunt rarely used the property however, given his lordship over other castles that were much grander, including Tutbury and Kenilworth Castle. He even started to take apart materials from Peveril to use on his other castles, including the lead, which he reused on Pontefract. By the 16th century, Peveril was reported to be in a state of total ruin.
The castle only became important again in the 19th century, when it became a popular tourist destination following the building of the railways. The ruins served as the inspiration behind Sir Walter Scott’s 1823 book ‘Peveril of the Peak’. It has been taken care of by English heritage since the 1950s and was grade-I listed in 1985.
Things to see and do at Peveril Castle
The Garderobe – One of the few in-tact examples of a medieval toilet left in Britain, make sure to check out the Garderobe while exploring the castle ruins.
Peveril Castle Exhibition – Located upstairs at the Visitor Centre, which is nearby the castle itself, the Peveril permanent exhibition details the rich history of the castle and surrounding areas through interactive displays. Learn how the castle went from a Norman Fort, to the administrative centre of the Royal Forrest, to the tourist attraction it is today.
Gift Shop – Located on the bottom floor of the visitor centre, the gift shop offers a wide range of souvenirs, books, toys, jewellery, dressing up clothes, and National Trust merchandise. The gift shop also sells soft drinks and ice cream.
How to get there
By Car – Head towards Buxton on the A6 and take a left onto Sheffield Road when the sign that reads ‘Chapel-en-le-Frith, Edale and Castleton’. From Castleton Village, Peveril Castle is easy to locate.
Address for Satnav – Peveril Castle, Market Place, Castleton, Derbyshire, S33 8WQ
Public Transport – There are several buses that leave from both Sheffield and Edale Station that stop at Castleton.
Car Park – There is no main carpark located at Peveril Castle, however it is possible for a limited number of cars to park outside the visitor centre. In order to guarantee a parking space, its better to find one in Castleton.
Good to know
– Dogs are very welcome to Peveril Castle, however, they should always be kept on a lead.
– English Heritage encourage amateur photographers to visit their sites as much as possible, and Peveril Castle is no exception. Its even possible to hire Peveril for a personal photoshoot or for use as a filming location.
– Drones are not welcome on site.
– There are several picnic benches located near to the visitor centre.
– There are toilets on site.
Opening Times and Prices
The Castle is open 10.00am – 5.00pm
Adult – £7.60
Child (5-17 years) – £4.60
Concession – £6.90
Family (2 adults and 3 children) -£19.80