A dales castle has unveiled its new herb garden following a six-year labour of love by gardener Elizabeth Carter.

Herbs and plants from medieval England feature in the new garden at Bolton Castle in Wensleydale.

Elizabeth has spent the past six years devouring history books, manuscripts and websites to come up with one of the most extensive displays in the country.

Information is available on all of the plants, ranging from poisons and plague to magic and myths. 

Uniquely, the castle has been held in the same family since it was built by Sir Richard Le Scrope 600 years ago and is one of the best preserved medieval castles in England.

It is now under the ownership of Lord Bolton, a direct descendant of Sir Richard.

Set at the foot of the south-facing castle walls, Elizabeth has completely replanted the herb garden.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

For anyone who doesn’t know the difference between their vulnerary; plants used to heal wounds, and their culinary; plants used to improve your cooking, and indeed the many that can be used for both, she has created a huge A to Z list of what the plants are and what they can and should be used for, on the castle’s website. 

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She said: “Over the past six years I have done extensive research into the medicinal, culinary and magical uses of all the plants by consulting numerous books, manuscripts, and trawling hundreds of internet sites for information and consulting with other experts in the field. This list is the culmination of that work which I hope will be of interest.”

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Elizabeth has put in more than 100 different types of plants that might well have originally been grown at Bolton Castle in medieval times. The castle was abandoned within 300 years of being built after being extensively damaged in the English Civil War.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Its most famous resident was Mary Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned there after she was defeated in battle in 1568. It was felt the combination of security and comfortable living quarters meant the castle was the best place for her and her staff of 51 knights, ladies in waiting and servants. Undoubtedly they would have made good use of the castle's extensive herb and plant garden.

In the English Civil War John Scrope tried to hold it for the royalist cause, but he was defeated in 1645 by Parliamentary forces after holding out for a year. The family carried on their connections with the castle moving to nearby Bolton Hall.

The Castle and gardens, which also include a rose garden, maze and wild boar compound, opened on March 18 for the new season.