Dalton Castle defending Furness Abbey
Welcome to the EDGE Guide to Dalton Castle. This three storey tower was built on the instructions of the Abbot of nearby Furness Abbey soon after a Scots raid of 1322 led by Robert Bruce, (in which much of the lands and property belonging to the abbey were ravaged).
The present building is possibly a replacement for one damaged in the raid: certainly there has been a stronghold here since at least 1239 when there is mention of a jury and later a prison.
In 1323 an order was made to Furness Abbey to the affect that the abbot should give his Peel tower near the Abbey to the Sheriff of Lancaster.
Some have interpreted this to mean Dalton Castle which does resemble a pele tower, and some believe it refers to Piel Castle on Piel Island in the mouth of Barrow harbour, also owned by the Abbey. Dalton seems the more likely candidate.
After the Dissolution of 1537 the ownership of the castle passed to the Crown, it being part of the Abbey estates.
Stone was taken from the Abbey in 1546 and used in some much needed work to the castle, where the walls were in a poor state of repair, the floors rotten with damp and the roof leaking.
The castle's role as a prison continued until 1774 and it remained a court right up to 1925.
It was given over to the care of the National Trust in 1969 by the Duke of Buccleuch. The intervening years saw repairs and 'improvements' made to the castle on at least three occasions.
Some of these works now seem regrettable but probably kept the building in use as a court and by doing so kept it from falling into dilapidation and ruin.
Dalton is not the largest castle in the county but is none the less an impressive building.
A rather plain faced rectangular tower, measuring in plan approximately 45feet/14metres by 30feet/9metres. The castle is open to the public, entry is free. Opening times are between 2 and 5 in the afternoon on Saturdays only.