About this image
The photographer recorded the feature in the foreground as being a 'Trench dug in Castle yard to find treasure said to be hid in secret passage leading down to foot of hill'. Scaffolding has been erected on the east corner of the keep.
A castle was present in some form here in 1086, as it is referred to in the Domesday Book. It took its name from William Peveril, a follower of William the Conqueror, and may well have been built of stone (rather than timber) from the start. The keep, which survives today almost to its full height, was constructed in 1176 and during the 13th century other additions were made.
However, from the 14th century, under the ownership of John of Gaunt (1st Duke of Lancaster), the castle declined in importance, although it was used as a prison for a time and masons repaired the walls and a bridge linking the inner and outer baileys in 1435-6. A survey in 1561 found it to be in a state of decay, while by 1609 it was said to be 'very ruinous and serveth for no use.'
Throughout this period the castle remained in the ownership of the Duchy of Lancaster and that is still the case today. The Duchy carried out repairs periodically until 1932 when it passed custodianship to the then Office of Works. The excavations depicted here followed on from that transfer.