Pendragon Castle, one off the beaten track and set in the beautiful surroundings in Mallerstang Dale, near Outhgill, Cumbria, not too far from Kirkby Stephen. I drive past it often on the road over towards Hawes and the Yorkshire Dales. Quite a favourite drive to be honest, always quiet, away from tourists and a pure vast wildness about the area.
Why Called Pendragon
Why the name Pendragon Castle? Well, folklore and legend has it that Uther Pendragon (the father of King Arthur) built a castle here first, and tried (yet failed) to change the direction of the River Eden to create the moat… An old local rhyme goes:
Let Uther Pendragon do what he can, Eden will run where Eden ran
Alas, however romantic the story the first signs of any kind of structure here is the castle that is now ruins. Of Norman times built in the 12th Century during the reign of William II. Over 500 years after the reputed time of the Pendragons. The name has stood throughout time though, adding to the mystery.
One of its earlier owners was Hugh de Morville, a knight of henry II and one of the four assassins of St Thomas Beckett, the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1170. In the 14th Century it was attacked in the Scottish raids. Damage from fire was repaired but another raid and fire in the 16th Century left it uninhabitable. From 1541 to 1660 it stayed that way.
Lady Anne Clifford
I have shown on many pages here that a lot of the castles of the area came into the hands of Lady Anne Clifford. In 1660 she not only rebuilt it as she did so many of them she owned, but added many other buildings and extra structure to it.
The Earl of Thanet received the castle upon Lady Anne’s death and had no use for it. The lead was taken from the use and much of the stone taken, all for buildings elsewhere. That was the point it began the decline into the ruins you see today.
As you drive by it is hard to imagine the larger splendour that once stood here. A small looking yet prominent ruin set in the middle of a valley with fells rising all around it. Mallerstang valley itself is also as I have said a wild and peaceful place, no hustle and bustle today which is rare indeed.
The castle is on private land in a farmers field off the road.. and due to the state of the ruin there is currently no public access. It is easy to be seen, as these pictures show from the perimeter of the field and road.