A century ago: Victorian visitors to Beeston Castle before the medieval ditch was cleared

Beeston Crag has been occupied for at least 4,000 years.

One of its earliest names, Buistan, recorded in the Domesday Book, means something like ‘market rock’; and evidence of Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement have all been discovered on the hill.

So when the 6th Earl of Chester, Ranulph de Blundeville, chose the rock for his new castle, in 1225, the site was already important. His new castle incorporated all the state-of-the-art techniques he’d witnessed during his time fighting in the Fifth Crusade.

This rare Victorian photograph shows the massive, ivy-clad gatehouse of the inner bailey when the broad, rock-cut ditch was still infilled with centuries of rubble.

How things change.