Fortified Tower. Pele Tower.
Situated on a spur overlooking the River Eden to its north. The building sits atop a mound. The walls measure 2.5 m thick and the remaining one stand to a height of 8 m. The masonry remains measure 20 m square.
In a couple of accounts, they state that the castle was originally 3 storeys tall, but the majority state it to have been only 2 storeys tall. On top were shallow clasping buttresses at the angles. The entrance was on the north side, and an internal staircase was located in the north west angle. There was a vaulted basement, a solar, bedchambers, and it included small, round-headed windows. The castle itself measures 19.5 m internally.
The earthworks, which enclose approximately 54 m in diameter, consist of a deep ditch cut around the tower in a roughly circular shape. It measures 3 m deep, and ranges from between 14.5 and 18 m wide. On the side of the River Eden, there is a steep scarp with an internal depth of 4.8 m. There are two causeways across the ditch and the one located to the north west is most probably the original entrance.
A bridge was built by Lady Anne Clifford spanning the River Eden. This was located 182.5 m from the actual castle, and it included a segmented arch. It was widened at a later date due to the amount of foot and cart traffic using it to cross the river.
1170’s Site owned by Sir Hugh de Morville, Lord of Westmorland. He was one of the knights who murdered Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. He also held Knaresborough Castle. His lands were taken from him, including Pendragon Castle.
12th C Built by Ranulph de Meschines.
1216-1272 During the reign of Henry III the site was held under Roger to Veteriport and recorded as being in a state of decay and neglect.
1228 Mentioned in the Patent Rolls. Roger to Veteriport died.
1245 Roger de Lilburn surveyed the Scottish Border for the king, along with 24 other knights.
1283 Roger de Clifford died, and his son, Robert inherited.
1309 A Licence to Crenellate was granted, as stated in the Calendar of Chancery Warrants, “Robert Clifford may crenellate his castles of Brougham and Pendragon in County Westmorland” (Pastscape, 2015).
1311 Lady Idonea de Veteriport founded the nearby St. Mary’s Church in the village of Outhgill.
1314 Edward II gave custody of the castle to Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick after Robert de Clifford had been slain at the Battle of Bannockburn.
1315 Held by Andrew de Harda in wardship for Roger de Lilburn.
1321 Roger de Lilburn, previously a minor, came of age.
1327 Before: It is stated that the castle could not be extended and was to be tenanted out. Jurors, acting after the death of Andrew de Harda, tenanted it out.
1327 Roger de Lilburn, fought against the King, was taken to York and beheaded. His heiress Lady Idonea de Vetoripont took up residence at the site.
1333 Lady Idonea de Vetoripont entertained Edward Balliol. King of Scotland, at the castle
1334 Lady Idonea de Vetoripont, heiress of Roger de Lilburn, who held the castle, died at the age of 73. She had lived at the site many years following her husband’s death.
1337 Roger de Clifford expelled Edward Balliol out of Scotland, and he was received at the castle and treated as a guest, including going on hunting trips into the forest.
1342 Attacked by the Scots.
1363 Granted to Sir Roger de Clifford.
1390 Roger de Clifford died, and his son Thomas inherited.
14th C Garderobe Tower.
1461-1483 Between: Held by Henry, Lord Clifford, but part of the lands were granted to Sir William Parr of Kendal Castle.
– When Sir William Parr died, his son Thomas was a minor, and Wardship along with the custody of all the lands went to Lancelot Wharton.
1539 John Leland: still standing.
1541 Burnt down by the Scots and left in ruins.
1615 Lady Anne Clifford noted in her personal diary her wish to restore the castle, and to turn it into a library for a Mr. Christopher Wolridge.
1660 Restored by Lady Anne Clifford, whose hands it was in.
A wall of lime and stone around the castle 90 roods in compass, with 2 gates, and within it a stable, coach-house, brew-house, bakehouse, wash-house, and a little chamber over the gate which is arched. (Blaine 1908).
1663 Lady Anne Clifford spend Christmas at the castle.
1664 Robert Braithwaite, gentleman, lived at the Castle, four years after its restoration, and that his wife threw herself off the top of Pendragon Castle.
1667 Lady Anne Clifford stayed at the castle.
1670 Lady Anne Clifford and her granddaughter, Lady Aletha Compton, Countess of Northampton, stayed at the castle.
1671 Lady Anne Clifford stayed at the castle.
1673 Lady Anne Clifford noted in her personal diary the amount she had paid towards some of the refurbishments to the castle.
1676 Lady Anne Clifford died and was succeeded by Nicholas Tufton, 3rd Earl of Thanet.
1685 Nicholas Tufton, 3rd Earl of Thanet did not want the site so he stripped it of all he could, including the lead from the roof and left it open to the elements, undoing all the work Lady Anne Clifford had undertaken. Building materials were taken from the site during the following years.
1686 Locally orders were given to repair the Castle Bridge, as it was used by the local people to cross the River Eden.
17th C Additions.
1739 Samuel and Nathanial Buck drew the castle.
1773 Most of the upper story had collapsed.
1773 Drawn by Thomas Pennant, and it is noticed that the top story had fallen down.
1787 Repairs were undertaken to Castle Bridge, and it was declared that it now belonged to the County. It was possibly widened at this stage.
18th C Mid: In ruins.
1891 Visited by the Durham and Northumberland Archaeological Society.
1920’s Some of the walls collapsed.
1939-1945 During: Edward Percy Frankland wrote a book about King Arthur and the site.
1960’s-1970’s Some of the vegetation was cleared from the site by the Ministry of Works.
1962 Sold by auction to Edward Raven Percy Frankland, ‘Raven’, an archaeologist.
1974 Field Investigation.
1993 Field Investigation.
1997 Edward Raven Percy Frankland passed away.
21st C Site owned by John Bucknell, who inherited it from his cousin.
As mentioned above, in 1314 Robert de Clifford was slain at the Battle of Bannockburn. It is stated in the Scotch Roll that he had 12 knights and 50 lances. The knights were named as,
With the repairs and alterations carried out at the site by Lady Anne Clifford, she had an inscription added over the entrance which read,
This Pendragon Castle was repayred by the Lady Anne Clifford, Countess Dowager of Pembroke, Dorsett and Montgomerie, Baroness Clifford, Westmorland and Vescie, High Sherissesse by inheritance of the County of Westmorland, and Lady of the Honour of Skipton in Craven, in the year 1660: so as she came to lye in it herself for a little while in October 1661, and it had byen ruinous without timber or any covering, ever since the year 1541. Isiah, Chapter, LVIII, Ver, 12. God’s Name Be Praised.
Looking up the abovementioned quote from the Bible, it states the following….
And they that shall be of thee, shall build the old waste places. Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations, and thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.
There are many legends associated with Pendragon, as you would expect with a name like that! But it is not all about the legend of the name – boxes of gold and spooky apparitions ensure this is a site that continues to hold onto her secrets but lets them out every now and again to lure people back.
There is also the paranormal activity at this site – and quite a number of them too!
This place has an adventurous history. One worth taking a closer look at and visiting if you can – she may be small, but she be mighty!!
References & Bibliography
1902, ‘Proceedings’ Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, Vol. 2 p. 408-9
Blaine. R. 1908. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Vol. 3., No. 23., pp. 258-261.
His Majesty’s Stationary Office. 1936. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Westmorland. His Majesty’s Stationary Office.
Historic England. 2020. Pendragon Castle. Available at https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1144890.
MacKenzie. Sir. J. D. 1897. The Castles of England, Their Story and Structure. W. Heinemann.
McIntire. W.T. 1933, ‘Proceedings’ Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 33 p. 298-9.
McKeller. E. 2017. Articulating British Classicism: New Approaches to Eighteenth-Century Architecture. Routledge.
Morris. J.E. 1903, ‘Cumberland and Westmorland Military Levies in the time of Edward I. and Edward II’ Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society., Vol. 3 p. 326.
Nichols. W. 1883. The History and Traditions Of Mallerstang Forest and Pendragon Castle. John Heywood.
Nicholson. J., & Burn. R. 1777. The History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland and Cumberland, Volume 2. W. Strahan.
Pastscape. 2015. Pendragon Castle. Historic England. Available at https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=14759.
Pennant. T. 1801. A Tour from Downing to Alston-Moor. Wilson & Company.
Whitaker. T. D. 1812. The History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven, in the County of York. Nichols.
Whiteside. J. 1905, ‘Some Accounts of Anne, Countess of Pembroke’ Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, Vol. 5. p. 190.
Williamson. G. C. 1922. Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Dorset, Pembroke etc.1590-1676. Her life, letters and work, extracted from all the original documents available, many of which are here printed for the first time. Dalcassian Publishing Company.