1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Castleton

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CASTLETON, a village in the High Peak parliamentary division of Derbyshire, England, 17 m. W.S.W. of Sheffield, and 2 m. from Hope station on a branch of the Midland railway. Pop. (1901) 547. Lying itself at an elevation of about 600 ft., it is surrounded on the north, west and south by hills from 1400 to 1700 ft. in height, rising sharply, and in parts precipitously. The village is celebrated for its situation in the midst of the wild Peak country, for the caves and mines in the neighbourhood, and for the Castle of the Peak, the ruins of which are strongly placed on a cliff immediately above the village. The Peak Cavern or Devil’s Hole, penetrating this cliff, is the most magnificent in Derbyshire. For many generations the entrance to this cave has served as a workshop, held free of rent, to families employed in rope and twine making. Speedwell Cavern is not far distant, at the entrance to the fine pass of Winnats, by which Castleton and the Vale of Hope are approached from the west. The beauties of this cavern, in which occurs the so-called bottomless pit, are in part readily accessible by boat, but the approach to the inner or Cliff cavern is so difficult that it has rarely been explored. Among several other caves is that known as the Blue John Mine, from the decorative fluorspar called “Blue John” which is obtained here. The church of St Edmund, Castleton, retains a fine Norman chancel arch, and the vestry contains a valuable library. At Brough near Castleton was a Roman fort, established to hold in check the hillmen of the Peak. It was connected by roads with Buxton, Manchester and Rotherham. The Castle of the Peak, or Peveril Castle, is famous through Sir Walter Scott’s novel Peveril of the Peak. Early earthworks, which, extending from below the castle in a semicircle, enclosed the town, can still in great part be traced. Before the Conquest the site was held by Gernebern and Hundinc, and was granted by the Conqueror to William Peverell, by whom the castle was built. On the forfeiture of William Peverell, grandson of the first holder, it was granted by Henry II. to Prince John who, in 1204, made Hugh Nevill governor of the castle. In 1216 William Ferrers, earl of Derby, took it from the rebellious barons, and was made governor by Henry III., who in 1223 granted a charter for a weekly market at the town. In 1328 the castle was given to John of Gaunt on his marriage with Blanche of Lancaster, and thus became parcel of the duchy of Lancaster. The castle has often been used as a prison, and from its position was almost impregnable.