Alton Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameAlton Castle
Alternative NamesAlverton; Aulton
Historic CountryStaffordshire
Modern AuthorityStaffordshire
1974 AuthorityStaffordshire
Civil ParishAlton

Castle was in existence here by 1176, some of remains are late C12 and there are additions of the first quarter of the C13. Ashlar with diagonal tooling and rubble core. The castle is situated on a hill overlooking the Churnet Valley. It was protected to the north by a precipitous cliff and to the south by a rock-cut ditch and curtain wall which enclosed an irregularly shaped site on an east-west axis; the gatehouse lay towards the west end of the south curtain and there were two wall towers towards the centre. The South Curtain: mainly late C12. The remains of the wall stretch from the south-east angle of St. John's Preparatory School to the western apex of the site being interrupted by the eastern wall tower; towards the east end of the curtain is a pilaster buttress, at the western apex immediately north of the gatehouse is the base of a square buttress or turret. The parapet has been destroyed but its height and position are to be discerned on the west side of the eastern wall tower (see below). The Eastern Wall Tower: late C12 and bonded into the curtain wall. Square open backed tower with a battered base and a string course at the ground level of the castle enclosure; a blind pointed arch springs from the string course and indicates the position of a barrel vaulted chamber entered from the enclosure; above this is a central arrow loop of circa 1190 with cross slit and fishtail shaped base, to the rear of the loop is a round arched embrasure; from the level of this loop upwards the corners of the tower are chamfered. The left hand side of the tower has a rectangular loop set high up immediately in front of the former south curtain parapet, the position of which is indicated by a break in the ashlar work. On the right hand side of the tower corbelling spans the angle between tower and curtain at parapet level. The Western Wall Tower: early C13. D-shaped. Foundations only. The tower was served by a newel staircase situated in its north-west angle

The Gatehouse: early C13. Twin D-shaped towers survive to a height of approximately 10ft, the eastern tower has a battered and offset plinth. Originally the towers flanked a dentral gate passage with a portcullis at its outer (southern) end, the lower part of a portcullis groove of square section survives on the east side of the passage. A mural staircase entered from a door on the west side of the passage gave access to the upper parts of the gatehouse (now destroyed). Below the level of the former gate passage and between the 2 towers is a sally-port with round arch, it gives access to a central corridor beneath the gate passage, at the north end of which a segmental-headed doorway to the west leads to the basement of the west tower and to a doorway in the north wall which probably communicated with the castle enclosure via a mural staircase. There is no indication as to how the basement of the east tower was entered, it may have been from a trap in the floor of the room above. A short length of wall extends from the front of the western tower and probably terminated the rock-cut ditch to the west and flanked one side of the former approach road.(Listed Building Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSK072424
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Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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  • Salter, Mike, 1997, Castles and Moated Mansions of Staffordshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 12-3
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 226
  • Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 20-1
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 449
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 178
  • Pevsner, N., 1974, Buildings of England: Staffordshire (London, Penguin) p. 59
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 352
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Lynam, Charles, 1908, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm. (ed), VCH Staffordshire Vol. 1 p. 350-1 (plan) online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 389-90 online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 264



  • 2003-4, 'Alton Castle' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 17 p. 34-5
  • Palliser, D.M., 1972, 'Staffordshire Castles: A Provisional List' Staffordshire Archaeology Vol. 1 p. 5-8
  • Cantor, Leonard, 1966, 'The Medieval Castles of Staffordshire' North Staffordshire Journal of Field Studies Vol. 6 p. 38-46
  • Girouard, 1960, Country Life Vol. 128 p. 1226-9
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)

Primary Sources

  • Dugdale, William (Caley, J., Ellis, H. and Bandinel, B. (eds)), 1817-30 (originally pub. 1655-73), Monasticon Anglicanum (London) Vol. 5 p. 662
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 430