One of the lesser-known and less cared for relics of Cleveland’s history is Kilton Castle, a crumbling spread of masonry clinging to the side of the dene overlooking Kilton Beck a little to the south-west of Loftus.
The stronghold, which is now largely enveloped by greenery, was built in the late 12th century on a rocky outcrop overlooking the valley below, being commissioned by the de Kilton family on land leased from the famous de Brus (Bruce) family – and probably preceded by a wooden affair. Immediately thereafter the land thereabouts became more intensely worked, and a sizeable village (Kilton) began developing nearby. Milling was the dominant industry, with records of such activity surviving from the 1320s.
By the end of the 14th century, however, the castle and village had been all but abandoned – yes, the Black Death may have had a lot to do with it – and the fortress began its long decline into ruin. Despite occasional attempts at partial restoration, come the 16th century it was long gone and as good as forgotten.
In the 18th century another large village estate was built at Kilton, but this was soon dismantled and replaced in the 19th century by a couple of large farmstead estates which remain in use today.
Despite being Grade I listed, the old castle receives little in the way of care and attention. The site occupies a fair old area – c.100m x 30m – but after a 1990s survey and preservation plan failed to stir anyone into action, nature began reclaiming the plot again at an alarming rate.
More information (and a link to some pictures) can be found here – though there’s not much to see.