Pontefract Castle community dig

22/07/2019, PR-9129

Pontefract Castle gatehouse community dig
( L-R) Ian Sanderson from West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service, Cllr Jacquie Speight and Neil Redfern from Historic England.

Exciting archaeological excavations are going to be taking place at Pontefract Castle in the autumn – and you can be part of it.

Historic England is supporting the investigations into the gatehouse area following the unexpected discovery of the remains of a barbican and drawbridge pit during the Key to the North project in 2016.

Archaeologists Dig Ventures have been appointed to carry out the excavations and are inviting adults and children to take part in the dig.

Cllr Jacquie Speight, Wakefield Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: "We are really looking forward to the excavations taking place at Pontefract Castle. We have spent the last five years delivering the Key to the North project and this dig, along with other plans we have for the site in the future, demonstrates Wakefield Council's continued commitment both to the castle and to the district's heritage."

Neil Redfern, Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Historic England, said: "We're thrilled to be supporting this project as it will give local people the opportunity to play a key role in unearthing new information about Pontefract Castle.

"Archaeology isn't just for academics; it's a wonderful way of bringing communities together through the discovery and celebration of the rich history of their local area."

Pontefract Castle

A spokesperson for Dig Ventures said: "We're inviting Pontefract residents to come and be an archaeologist for a day. You can try excavating with our team, take part in the 'Finds Room' where all the discoveries go to be cleaned, identified and recorded, or just come for one of the daily tours.

"You'll get to learn how archaeologists investigate the past, and what they do when discoveries are made. There are also loads of free family-friendly activities so that children can get involved and become junior archaeologists too!

"All the activities are hands-on, and we'll show you exactly what you need to do. Anything you discover will become part of the investigation, and contribute to what we know about the history of Pontefract Castle.

"We welcome people of different ages, abilities and mobility, and if you're interested in history, or just curious to see how archaeologists investigate the past, there's an activity for you!

"We can't wait to see how many new details we unearth, and to meet all the Pontefract residents who want to take part in this exciting investigation."

Wakefield Council will be supported and advised on the excavations by our partners at West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service (WYAAS).

Ian Sanderson, Principal Archaeologist with WYAAS, said: "This is an exciting and unusual project and one that promises to both reveal the nature of the late medieval entrance to the castle and - through whatever they threw into the castle ditch - provide an insight into life within the castle."

Participants can sign up to take part by visiting digventures.com/pontefract-castle where there will be regular updates on the project.