Pendragon Castle, a ruins that is off the beaten track and set in the beautiful surroundings of Mallerstang Dale, near Outhgill, Cumbria.
It is situated not too far from Kirkby Stephen and I drive past it often on the road over towards Hawes and the Yorkshire Dales. Yes Mallerstang is technically in Cumbria but was included into the Yorkshire Dales when it was extended in size.
Quite a favourite drive to be honest, always quiet, away from tourists and a pure vast wildness about the area.
Why Is It Called Pendragon?
Why is the castle called 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 like this:
Let Uther Pendragon do what he can, Eden will run where Eden ran
Alas, however romantic the story of Uther Pendragon is, the first signs of any kind of structure here is the castle that is now ruins. From a much later period in time.
It is of Norman times and was built in the 12th Century during the reign of William II. Over 500 years after the reputed time of the Pendragons.
However thanks to the legend the name has stood throughout time to this day, 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 the castle 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 and started to head to ruin.
Lady Anne Clifford Rebuild
I have shown on many pages here that a lot of the castles of the area came into the hands of Lady Anne Clifford. Castles that stretched all the way from Skipton to Penrith. For example the nearby Brough Castle.
In 1660 she not only rebuilt it as she did so many of them she owned, but added many other buildings to it and a lot of extra structure. For instance she added a brewhouse, a bakery, a stables and a coach house.
The Earl of Thanet received the castle upon Lady Anne’s death and had no use for it.
The lead was taken from the roof and much of the stone taken away to be used on buildings elsewhere, especially in the market town of Skipton. That was the point it began the decline into the ruins you see today.
As you drive by it now, 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 a wild and peaceful place, no hustle and bustle which is rare indeed.
The castle is on private land in a farmers field off the road.. and until recently, for safety reasons there was no entry to the ruins and you had to observe from the road.
Now the current owners have spent a lot of time, money and dedication to not only uncover the true gems of the ruins but also make it more accessible and people can step directly around it now.
Where is Pendragon Castle?
It is in the valley of Mallerstang in the Yorkshire Dales. Grid ref NY 7807 0265
Who Owns Pendragon Castle?
A retired architect called John Bucknall is the current owner and a perfect owner for bringing the ruins to life again.