Review of ‘Castleton - A History, A Tour, People, Buildings and Industries’, by Dr Liam Clarke

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.


by Dr Liam Clarke
ISBN 978-0-9562437-0-6 (2009)

This lengthy title is only a hint of the wealth of research brought together by Dr Liam Clarke, a trustee and long-standing member of Castleton Historical Society.

His geological timeline places Castleton in a shallow lagoon 300 million years ago, hence the present-day profusion of multi-million-year-old fossils in the local limestone. The chronological journey continues into recorded history, from the earliest reference to 'Peaclond' to the fascinating results of modern DNA studies.

Tangible evidence from the intermediate eras includes the town ditch, a toll window, lydgate, mortuary, castle, church and numerous historic buildings, for Castleton was a market town built to a Norman grid plan.

Generations of Peaklanders populate this book, not to mention some ghostly survivors. Dr Clarke reveals how and where the villagers earned a living: in the lead mines and ropeworks, or producing the likes of candles, linen, needles and ale. Some snippets are worth a thousand words - one former landlady of the Castle Inn could afford to lend the churchwardens a massive £400 for repairs to Castleton Church. Monks, militiamen, murderers and midwives all play their part. Some of those born and bred in Castleton endured sorry lives, with Victorian labourers living in slum conditions and fearful of outbreaks of typhoid and even rabies.

And what wonderful names to delight family historians: Gernebern, Hundinc, Wolfhunt, Leticia Hupporey and surnames galore. At the other end of the social scale we have Sir Archibald Grant, expelled from the House of Commons for financial misbehaviour in 1732. Hard to believe in 2009.

With over 100 illustrations, many in colour, and precisely annotated source material, Castleton - A History, A Tour, People, Buildings and Industries by Dr Liam Clarke is from Owl Publishing of Castleton.

Review by Julie Bunting

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