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Dig to uncover history of Sheffield's medieval castle to get underway

The Castlegate site.
The Castlegate site.
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Excavations at Sheffield's Castlegate site are expected to get underway after council bosses appointed archaeologists to carry out the dig.

Sheffield Council has appointed Wessex Archaeology to uncover how much remains of the city's medieval castle and pledged there would be opportunities for the public and schoolchildren to view the work and learn more about the site's history.

The work will be the first-ever comprehensive investigation of the whole site since the castle was demolished at the end of a Civil War siege, made possible by the demolition of Castle Market in 2016.

Previous archaeological work was confined to either observation by dedicated amateurs when construction was taking place and two trenches on the market’s upper loading bay back in 2002, which were excavated by the University of Sheffield’s commercial team.

The archaeology team will host tours for schools, community and heritage groups and the public, working with the Castlegate Partnership which includes the council, the Friends of Sheffield Castle, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, and businesses.

At the same time the first scientific analysis of the Museums Sheffield collection of artefacts from those previous excavations is being carried out by experts from the University of Sheffield’s Archaeology Department.

A computer-generated image of how the castle used to look will also be launched in September at the Festival of the Mind and people will be able to access it on their mobile phones at the site.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, the council's cabinet member for business and investment, said: “This excavation is very exciting and will help us to decide how to make the most of this historical asset whilst also identifying which parts of the Castle Market site can be redeveloped to create a lively, attractive and prosperous setting at the heart of the Castlegate quarter.

“The area is already starting to see considerable investment and development with new hotels, and the new Kollider digital incubator close by at Castle House, with a number of innovative businesses, such as the British Games Institute, also choosing to relocate here.

“We are looking forward to learning so much more about the forgotten history of our brilliant city and its very origins, when the whole of Sheffield life was focused around its castle.”

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Martin Gorman, chairman of Friends of Sheffield Castle added: “The Friends have been campaigning for several years for this and we are looking forward to working with the archaeological team to see what remains of this rich historic site. By examining the past in this way, we can help ensure Castlegate can have a thriving future.”

Prof John Moreland of the University of Sheffield added: “The university has been a strong supporter of the regeneration of Castlegate for over four years and is proud of the creative role played by our staff and students particularly in architecture, landscape and archaeology in shaping and promoting the rediscovery of the Castle.”

Andrew Norton, regional director north for Wessex Archaeology, said the firm was 'delighted to be working on the exciting project.

He added: “We are very much looking forward to discovering more about one of Sheffield’s best kept historical secrets, and sharing that information with the people of Sheffield and beyond.”