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PIEL CASTLE

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  PILE OF FOTHERAY
DESCRIPTION + /

The site of Piel Castle, a medieval castle dominated by a massive keep, enclosed by both an inner and an outer bailey, each bordered by a ditch and set with corner towers. The original stronghold was erected for the monks of Furness Abbey in King Stephen's reign (1135-54), a licence to crenellate was granted in 1327 and the visible remains probably date from that period. At this time much of northern England was troubled by Scottish raids, and the monks of Furness wished to establish a place of safety. The stone used for construction was taken from the beach, although red sandstone was imported for architectural details. Although the large windows on the upper floors indicate a domestic residence residence, it is generally thought that the castle was erected for defensive purposes. The keep is extremely unusual, comprising three parallel compartments though the easternmost of these has fallen into the sea and its walls now lie on the beach. They probably also wanted to monitor traffic passing through Piel Harbour and to protect cargoes. It was dismantled in 1403 and partly rebuilt in circa 1429, although it was ruinous by 1537. It was renovated in the 19th century by the Duke of Buccleuch, including construction of sea defences which slowed the pace of erosion on the southern and eastern sides of the castle. The family gave the island, including the castle, to Barrow Corporation in 1918, and the monument was taken into the guardianship of the Secretary of State the following year. In 1920 the island was presented by the Duke of Buccleuch to the people of Barrow and District to commemorate those who died in the First World War. The castle is now in the care of English Heritage.

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