In 1995 Ryedale District Council acquired the 5 acres of land behind the Old Lodge Hotel in Old Maltongate.
This land has a 2 000 year history, starting with the Roman Fort of Deventio around AD 71, through to a Norman Castle and Elizabethan House.
The site still holds a great deal of interest for Archaeologists, and has been listed by English Heritage as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The first excavations began in the 1930s by Philip Corder and John Kirk, commemorated by a standing stone and plaque in Orchard Fields, and many of the finds can still be found in the Malton Dickens Museum on Chancery Lane.
Since then, we have played host to other on-going investigations, including ITV's Time Team, as well as Defence Archaeology Group's Project Nightingale.
The land is said to contain part of the remains of the Roman Fort known as Derventio Brigantum, dating from 71AD. The first records of this site are found in the Antonine Itinerary (Itinerarium Antonini Augusti), the great survey of roads throughout the Roman Empire.
The civilian settlement of Derventio grew up outside of the walls of the fort to serve the garrison (the Ala Gollrum Picentiana), including large, elaborate dwellings with heated floors, baking ovens, workshops and storehouses, and even a bath house.
Remains of pottery, including locally produced ware, and coinage have been found on-site. There is also evidence of bronze, iron, and pewter working, as well as the famous Jet work jewellery which is only found towards the North Yorkshire coast.
For more information about the history of Derventio and Roman Malton, please take a look at -
The limestone ridge above the River Derwent had attracted settlement before the Romans used its defensive qualities around 90AD. Ivo de Vescy, who came from Normandy with William the Conqueror, probably built the first castle next to the ruins of the Roman Fort. He would have found a flourishing village – fragments of 9th-century crosses are evidence of Christian worship, and Domesday Book (1086) records a church and mill.
The motte and bailey castle may have made use of the earthworks of the fort. Sitting above the river crossing, the castle dominated the land all round and gave control of the road system based on Roman and earlier routes. In the early 12th century a new stone castle was granted by Henry I to his close friend, the northern knight Eustace Fitz John. The only known illustration of the castle, on a map of 1399 in the British Library, shows a substantial round tower. John Leland, 16th century antiquary and poet, described the castle as having been large judging by its ruins.
Eustace Fitz John gained the castles and estates of Alnwick and Malton through marriage to Beatrice de Vescy (later the family name) making him a powerful force in the northeast. The family’s friendship, and later marriage, with the Scottish royal family led to problems with the English kings. In 1138 King Stephen laid siege to the castle for 8 days during his wars with Matilda. Later Richard I and William the Lion, King of Scotland, may have met there, but an order for its demolition by King John during the Barons’ Revolt was only reprieved by the king’s death.
On William de Vescy’s death at Bannockburn in 1314, leaving no heir, the castle reverted to the Crown. Inevitable disputes over its holding included an incident when the rightful custodian was refused entry by ‘certain ill-disposed persons’, and occupation by Robert the Bruce who wrecked it before leaving. Sir Ralph Eure inherited Old Malton in 1387 through his wife. This ancient Yorkshire family flourished throughout the 15th century but probably spent less time in Malton for, by about 1540, Leyland describes only ‘a mean house for a farmer’ on the site.
Elizabeth I and James I
It was inherited by Lord William Eure when he received his title in 1544. The Eure family had a long and interesting connection with the area – William's son Ralph, born in 1510, defended Scarborough Castle against the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 and became Warden of the East Marches . He was also involved in the burning of Edinburgh in 1544. The exploits of this bloody warrior are commemorated in Sir Walter Scott's poem entitled 'Lord Eurie'.
In 1569 Ralph, 3rd Lord Eure built a new house on the site now known as the Castle Garden . The house was rebuilt it in much grander style around 1602. This was a spectacular property and is described by the diarist and gunpowder plotter Sir Henry Slingsby as rivalling many other great houses, including that at Audley End.
The Property Dispute
It is that house that was inherited by Colonel William Eure, a casualty of Marston Moor , and eventually by his two daughters Mary and Margaret (Peg and Moll). The sisters famously quarrelled over their inheritance and could not agree on who should live in the property. As a result the house was taken down stone by stone and the stones divided between them by order of the Sheriff Henry Marwood in 1674. All that remains of the original property is the building now known as The Old Lodge Hotel. The size of this building suggests that the original Jacobean Prodigy house that once stood on the site would have been a substantial and impressive property.
During recent archaeological observation of the construction of the Castle Garden , evidence of a substantial demolition layer has been identified suggesting that the house became the Jacobean equivalent of crusher run!
Only the Lodge remains and that has been substantially altered and extended since purchase by Sir Thomas Wentworth in 1712.
What little evidence we have of a garden associated with the Jacobean house comes from a painting by Settrington and an etching of that painting dated 1728.