THE CASTLE that Malton forgot is the focus of a fascinating new exhibition in the town.

Many people are unaware of the history of the castle and the major role it played in British history, but a partnership between Malton Museum, Malton Castle Garden and Ryedale District Council is aiming to rectify this.

Yvette Turnbull, Ryedale District Council’s Creative Economy Officer, said the project began in 2012, when the council undertook some stabilisation work on the castle walls.

“It was clear that, although the history of the castle is astonishing, very few people knew anything about it," she added.

"We have some clues left – like Castlegate – but people don’t always put two and two together, so we decided to do as much as we could to help people know more about Malton’s rather illustrious past.”

The partnership decided to tell the story of the castle in as many ways as possible, which included interpretation at the site and a new leaflet.

Local sculptor Peter Coates was also brought on board to make a permanent artwork, while members of Kirkbymoorside Camera Club were invited to create an exhibition of images.

Harry Kingman, chairman of the club said, “We were delighted to be asked to put on a photographic exhibition to help promote the lost medieval castle of Malton.

"When we heard of its long history, we were enthused, but when we had a walk around the site, our spirits dropped, as almost all the archaeological features have been obliterated over the centuries. We then appreciated that we faced quite a challenge.

He added: "However, we quickly realised that the site is full of interest and beauty, and we hope that our small exhibition will encourage people to visit the site and grasp some of the history.”

The defensive qualities of the River Derwent caused the Roman army to establish a fort in the 1st century AD. When the Romans left, in the late 4th or early 5th century, a small village grew up east of the remains of the fort, and the Domesday Book shows a flourishing village at the end of the 11th century.

Ivo de Vescy, a Norman knight, was probably responsible for building the earliest castle, a round wooden tower with a defended area surrounding it, known as a motte and bailey. A massive ditch, found in excavation in 1996, may have belonged to it, and it is possible that the earthworks of the Roman fort formed the bailey.

A new stone castle was built in the early part of the 12th century, and granted by Henry I, to Eustace fitz John, a northern knight and close friend of the king.

The only known illustration of this castle is on a British Library map of 1399 and shows a round tower, similar to the surviving castle at Alnwick,. However, by the mid16th century the whole castle as in ruins.

Ann Clark, Malton Museum volunteer, who researched the castle’s long and complex history said it would have dominated the landscape of the town.

“Malton Castle represents a time when the town was thriving not just locally but as part of the nation’s story and, whilst Malton Museum’s collection is largely Roman, it has important material from later periods," she added.

"The project has allowed us to focus on some of these objects, and on the stories of some of the powerful people who lived in medieval Malton. There is still much to discover and we hope that the display will make people more aware of the castle that Malton forgot and encourage more work on this exciting time in the town’s history.’

The exhibition, at the Parish Rooms, Yorkersgate, runs until June 15. It is open Thursday to Saturday and is free to enter. The Castle Gardens, also free to enter, are open during daylight hours every day and the marker can be found near the top of the steps leading from the Castlegate entrance.