CastletonSir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Walter Scott
Castleton, Castleton S33 8WP
The Devil's Arse Peveril Castle

There are two sites of Gothic interest in Castleton.

'The Terror of Blue John Gap' (1910)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) is best known for his Sherlock Holmes series, though he also wrote such classics as The Lost World and a number of Gothic short stories.  “The Terror of Blue John Gap” is set in the Derbyshire countryside (an area frequently mentioned in Doyle’s work), about ten miles outside of Castleton.  The ‘Blue John Gap’ was supposedly built by the Romans for the mining of the semi-precious mineral ‘Blue John,’ is fictional, but there are a number of actual Blue John mines in the area.  When describing the abandoned mine and its subterranean passages, Doyle was most likely inspired by Castleton’s Peak Cavern, otherwise known as ‘The Devil’s Arse’.  This popular tourist attraction features multiple caverns, claustrophobic tunnels, and an underground stream known as the ‘River Styx.’  Doyle states in “The Terror of Blue John Gap” that in this area of Derbyshire “All this country is hollow,” yet his protagonist soon discovers that the caves beneath his feet are not quite as empty as he first imagined.

Fun Fact: Peak Cavern has had many famous visitors of note, including Queen Victoria and Romantic poet Lord Byron, who fired a musket in one of the Main Caverns.  Byron was not invited to repeat his visit.

 

Peveril of the Peak, Sir Walter Scott (1823)

Overlooking the village of Castleton, at the edge of the Hope Valley, sits the ruins of Peveril Castle; the inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s sprawling historical romance and longest novel, Peveril of the Peak. Though Scott’s tale takes place during the Civil War period, Peveril Castle was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 by William Peverel (supposedly the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror) and has had a number of owners throughout its long history, including Henry II and John of Gaunt. Though little of the original is left of it today, Peveril Castle still offers visitors a unique glimpse into medieval history and architecture as well as stunning views of the surrounding valley for those willing to brave the steep trek from the village- sensible shoes are highly recommended!