Castle Rock Pueblo (5MT1825) was founded around AD 1250, andwas occupied for about 30 years. It is contemporary with small cliff dwellings in lower Sand Canyon and with the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. Unlike those communities, which were built inside of rock alcoves, these people built their village on and around the base of a steep butte.
The village had at least 16 kivas, 40 above-ground rooms, nine possible towers, and a large D-shaped enclosure. Most kivas in this region are circular, but one found at Castle Rock was rectangular, like the modern kivas of the Hopi people.
Castle Rock's inhabitants moved away after AD 1280. The remains of the pueblo were likely a landmark for Ute and Navajo hunters and shepherds, occasional Puebloan descendants on pilgrimage, Anglo traders and settlers, and others who used this ancient and well-traveled east-west route.
Pioneer photographer William Henry Jackson took the first photographs of Castle Rock in 1874, while on an expedition for the United States Geological Survey .
The site has changed during the last 150 years. The photo sequence at left --from 1874, 1908, and 2012-- shows the near-complete disappearance of two walls on the east side and base of the rock. The middle photo includes a structure (right foreground) of which a small fragment remains intact today.
In some cases, archaeological structures are not stabilized, and they will eventually return to the earth. This policy was developed in consultation with Native American tribal stakeholders with a connection to the area and to the Ancestral Puebloan people.
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center archaeologists conducted intensive excavations at certain locations within the Castle Rock site in 1993-94.
See Crow Canyon's Castle Rock report