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Monument record MDR2316 - Medieval Hospital (site of), Castleton Road, Castleton

Type and Period (1)

  • (Medieval to Tudor - 1100 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

In the High Peak, about halfway between the villages of Hope and Castleton, by the roadside, stood a spital house or hospital, dedicated to St Mary, which was founded for certain infirm poor of the district. There is no doubt that it was of early establishment, but little can now be learnt of its exact history. William of Worcester, who travelled through Derbyshire in 1478, says that the hospital was founded 'per uxorem domini Peverelle', meaning the wife of William Peverel, the reputed illegitimate son of the Conqueror. In 1377 the hospital was valued at £3 and four bushels of oatmeal per annum; however, in the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535, where there is a special entry under 'Hospital de Spyttelhowse in Alt' Peke…' it was stated that the average annual income was only 40s. It seems that for some time before its disappearance the hospital served no other purpose but to provide a small income for a non-resident warden. Certificates of 1547 show that it possessed no goods and that its income had been granted by the king to one John Savage. (1) The site was on the right hand side of the road going from Castleton to Hope, opposite to the lodge belonging to Losehill Hall, in a field still called the Great Spittle, and still showing the mounds overlaying the foundations. (2) A lesser Hospital for the infirm poor was dedicated to St. Mary B.V. at Spital on the Peak. It may have been founded in the early 12th century and it was dissolved after 1542. (3) Earth covered foundations were surveyed by the Ordnance Survey at 1:2500. (4) An EDM survey of the earthworks was carried out in c. 1994, as part of a Masters Degree at the University of Sheffield. This indicated that the site appeared to fulfil the criteria necessary for a medieval hospital, in that it had access to a communication route and the rectangular earthwork was a potentially viable place for a building. However, additional research suggested that the site is not necessarily that of the hospital; for example a grant of 1548 detailing lands that belonged to the hospital describes all those physically adjacent to it as being to the south, whereas 'spital' place names in later documents lie both north and south of the earthworks. (7) A ditch surviving as an earthwork and running downslope towards the Peakshole can be seen to connect with the surviving earthworks associated with the hospital and may have formed part of a drainage system of some antiquity. A section across the ditch was excavated as part of a watching brief along the line of a Severn Trent Water replacement sewer in 1999. However, no dating evidence was recovered. A corn-drying kiln to the west was exposed during the same watching brief, which may have been associated with the medieval hospital, but is perhaps more likely to relate to agricultural expoilation of the spittal fields after the 16th century dissolution of the hospital [see SMR 33107 for more details]. (8) The site is a scheduled monument. The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of Castleton medieval hospital. The hospital, known as 'The Hospital of the Castle of Peak', was founded in the early 12th century by the Peverel family and was dedicated to St Mary the Blessed Virgin. It appears as a royal foundation in John of Gaunt's register dated 1372-1376. The last warden was in office between 1536-1542, after which the hospital was dissolved. The remains include three sides of a large sub-rectangular platform defined by a substantial bank, representing the site of a building, measuring approximately 35m by 27m. Medieval hospital complexes usually included a range of buildings and features often including medicinal herb gardens. The precise function of the building along with the wider organisation and layout of Castleton hospital are not yet fully understood. (9) Between November 2007 and June 2008 several geophysical surveys and an earthwork survey were carried out across the scheduled area, as well as beyond it. While the existing interpretation of the site is based on a certain amount of conjecture and the visible features in particular are somewhat ambiguous, the results of the surveys did reveal several areas of possible archaeological deposits/structures, particularly outside the current scheduled area. A holloway can confidently be said to run through the area, and an adjacent bank is visible. However other earthwork features are far from certainly medieval and cannot clearly be associated with medieval buildings. In fact, the best candidates from the geophysical survey lie outside the scheduled area. (10)

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Cox, J C. 1907. 'The Religious Houses of Derbyshire', in The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Derbyshire. Volume II, pp 54-56. pp 86-87.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Brooksbank, J H. 1929. Trans Hunter Archaeology Society. Vol. 3.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Knowles, D & Hadcock, R. 1953. Medieval Religious Houses of England and Wales. p 308.
  • <4> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 15-SEP-65.
  • <5> Index: NDAT. 0604.
  • <6> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 3336.1-2.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Satchell, M (University of Sheffield). 1994?. 'From Blind Certainty to Informed Possibility:' A Preliminary Field Survey of the Putative Site of the Hospital of St Mary the Blessed Virgin, Castleton.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Malone, S. 2011. Severn Trent Water Replacement Sewer, Castleton, Derbyshire. Archaeological Observation and Recording..
  • <9> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1999. Scheduling Notification. 29938. Cat. No.: 444.
  • <10> Unpublished document: Merrony, C (University of Sheffield). 2008. Surveying the Community: Geophysical and Topographic Survey by the Castleton Historical Society and Community in Collaboration with the Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield, at Castleton, Derbyshire, 2007-2008.



Grid reference Centred SK 1554 8332 (90m by 95m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (4)

  • EDR2771
  • EDR2949
  • EDR1127
  • EDR2948

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Record last edited

Mar 15 2020 10:46AM

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