Exciting discovery at Pontefract Castle

18/09/2017, PR8653

​A floor and part of a wall, not seen for more than 350 years, have been uncovered during conservation work at Pontefract Castle.

​The archaeology is in the Sally Port, which is being opened for the first time since 1649, as part of the £3.5 million Key to the North project, made possible thanks to support from National Lottery players.

​Cllr Jacquie Speight, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport at Wakefield Council, said: "This is a very exciting and unexpected find dating back to the Civil Wars. It's led to a short delay on site, but a redesign that means visitors will be able to come and view the floor once conservation works are finished."

A Sally Port is a secure, controlled entryway to a fortification or prison, which can also be used as an emergency exit in times of trouble.

The stonework was uncovered shortly after work began to build a new retaining wall, which will enable visitors to enter the Sally Port once work to the monument is completed at the end of the year.

Pontefract Castle was built in the 11th century and is believed to be where King Richard II was imprisoned and murdered. The castle has been a ruin since 1649 when it was held as a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War and besieged by Parliamentarian forces. 

Neil Redfern, Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Historic England, Yorkshire, said: "Parts of this feature may possibly date to the final siege of Pontefract Castle during the English Civil War in 1649. They give the real impression of a garrison working furiously to shore up the defence of the castle that had suffered considerably after three years of sieges.

"Historic England has been really pleased to support the project to open up the Sally Port, and to undertake additional three dimensional recording so we can help bring this part of the castle's story back to life."

David Renwick, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Yorkshire & the Humber, said: "Pontefract Castle has a long and colourful history, and has frequently found itself at the centre of national events, as a royal residence where Richard II was murdered, under siege during the Civil War, and immortalised twice in Shakespearean verse. This is a really exciting discovery, uncovering even more of the fascinating history of this incredibly significant site, and we're delighted that support from National Lottery players has made it possible."


Notes to Editors

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has contributed £3.04 million to the Key to the North project, Historic England more than £600K, with additional funding from Wakefield Council, the Wolfson Foundation and landfill charity, EpaC.

About Historic England

We are Historic England (formerly known as English Heritage), the public body that champions and protects England's historic places. We look after the historic environment, providing expert advice, helping people protect and care for it and helping the public to understand and enjoy it.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.



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