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Peveril Castle. Castleton and Hammerhead

During a recent weekend in the village of Castleton, located in the Peak District, I visited Peveril castle which sits on the high sides of the valley. For most of it’s existence it was used as a hunting lodge and court. There was a small disagreement when a new constable tried to take office but other than that there was peace. The castle has also been host to some of the monarchy such as Matilda and Henry II. While it is of Norman origin, it is surrounded by much older hill forts and settlements dating back to the Bronze age, particularly those of Mam Tor (Mother hill) opposite where there have been many finds shown off in both the town museum and the English heritage building at the foot of the castle. (I visited Mam Tor which I wrote about in an earlier post)

It was built not long after the conquest possible 1068 and there is mention of “William Peverils” in the doomsday book. This castle was also built straight from stone rather than being from wood and then later upgraded. There is a great deal of stone and quarries in the area which makes sense. One bit of information gained from the members of English Heritage scattered about was that there is no well. However there is underground rivers beneath so its possible they tapped into that. They said that theories are welcome.

The first thing I always look for when visiting the site of a castle is how well placed it is. We wargamers tend to see something like this and think scenarios after all. I can confirm that the main approach to the castle is damn steep and certainly takes effort to walk to the top. fortunately, the path zigzags up the near-vertical hill. The possibility of using siege equipment on it however is next to impossible.

Looking back over Castleton. Zigzagging up the steep hill is the path to the castle. Would not fancy storming this place with ladders. Archers defending would have an easy time..

The site of the castle is on top of a large hill flanked by the opening of Peak Cavern (which is an incredible sight to see) on one side and a cliff face on the other. The position offers a fantastic view of the valley below and movements alone the roads entering Castleton can be seen from miles away. Good lookouts would see any unwanted movment very quickly. Whilst the Castle is overlooked, it would be a very difficult for archers to seriously threaten the defenders. Possibly not worth a duel with archers behind a wall as no form of mangolet would be easily deployed on the cliff paths to the rear of the castle. For a more in depth look, may I recommend “Castleton; A History” by DR Liam Clarke or just visit if you can. It’s a lovely place with some good walks. Also nearby caverns.

A few days later I was on my way to Hammerhead where I saw a few old chums. There was a nice variety of stalls to visit and part with some hard earned cash. There was also an amazing amount of gaming tables on display with some demonstration games for the good people to join in on.

A regular sight at game shows is the Gripping beast demonstration table run by very good friend Richard Keenan. Always a joy to chat to. Here he is demonstrating the new book of invasions. Richard also runs the Saga Ironman events in various places around the country. Always a good show to visit.

Thank you for reading. Hopefully now I’m kitted out with some new writing equipment I should be able to get back to posting more regularly. Joe has been busy again setting up an event. This one is entitled battle of the 4 ages taking place at Boards and swords in Derby on the 3rd of July this year. There is a link to both the rule pack and tickets on the Northern tempest facebook page. You can also book them through the Boards and swords page https://www.boardsandswords.co.uk/ Joe works very hard and always delivers great events. We would love to see a full house.

By Jim

I spent most of my days on building sites involved in and around brickwork. I've recently been following my passion for history and decided to jump in fully by starting university in my 30's.

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