The Most Romantic Castle In The World!
Pendragon Castle, dominating the Banks of the River Eden, is famous for its associations with the legend of King Arthur, home to Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon.
Roman coins have been found on the castle site, which might provide a tenuous link to the warrior king of Britain. But in reality, the legend has its roots in the ‘Historia regum Britanniae’ (the History of the Kings of Britain), written by Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1136.
Through Monmouth’s imaginative interpretation of real and fictitious events Pendragon Castle became linked with Arthurian legend as the home of Uther who allegedly owned the castle and was killed there when Saxons besieged the castle and poisoned the well.
Despite those romantic associations the first properly recorded fortification on the site was an early twelfth century ringwork castle, which had a stone tower added a little while later.
One infamous owner was rather well known, one Hugh de Morville, who In addition to being Lord of Westmorland he’s also one of the four knights who murdered the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket in Canterbury in 1170 after witnessing Henry II having a bit of a moan about troublesome priests.
But de Morville didn’t get the pat on the back he expected, and the King confiscated all of his properties and handed them to the de Vipont family (distant relatives of de Morville). Eventually Robert de Clifford got his mitts on the castle, inheriting after the death of Idonea de Vipont who’s sister Isabella was married to Robert’s father, Roger de Clifford.
Edward II granted a Robert a licence to crenellate on 16 July 1309, he didn’t get to enjoy if for too long though as he died in battle against the Scots at Bannockburn in 1314. The rebuilt castle was now a square three-story Tower Keep, sat inside circular earthworks of the earlier ringwork.
The castle was attacked by the Scots in 1341 and set on fire, resulting in severe damage. It was later restored by Roger de Clifford in the 1360s and was still in use in 1539 when visited by English poet and antiquary John Leland in 1539 undertaking his ‘Itineraries’, however, by 1541 the castle had started to fall into disrepair.
Following the Civil War and the restoration of Charles II in 1660, the castle passed into the hands of Lady Anne Clifford, along with Skipton, Brough, Appleby, Brougham and Penrith. She undertook major works to restore all of these castles, adding structures including an outer curtain wall, a gatehouse and several ancillary buildings to Pendragon Castle. On her death, however, Pendragon was overlooked by her successor the Earl of Thanet and by 1685 in had been largely demolished to provide building materials. Ever since the castle gradually deteriorated leaving the ruin we see today…