Pendragon Castle – Romantic ruin of Mallerstang

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.

Pendragon Castle full view from the road

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.

Pendragon Castle ruins old door archway
Pendragon Castle in the clouds

Early owners

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.

sheep and the castle

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.

ancient history ruins
castle in Mallerstang

Visiting 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.

Pendragon Castle location

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.

Pendragon Castle -view from the side

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  1. I’m adore the ancient Norman period…you have captured the brooding beauty so well .always look fwd to returning to Scotland…i shall follow u

  2. Wow, this place looks fascinating! Great photos and nice touch to put them in black and white!

  3. Such chilling photography! Love how your images complement the history of the castle’s demise… great blog!

  4. Avatar of Stephanie Burgess Stephanie Burgess says:

    Lovely black and white photos with some interesting history of the site 🙂

    1. Avatar of Paul Steele Paul Steele says:

      Hi Stephanie, so kind, thanks