Archaeological work has started at the site of Sheffield Castle in the centre of the city.

The work is being carried out by leading archaeological and heritage practice, Wessex Archaeology, and has been commissioned by Sheffield City Council as part of its Castlegate Kickstart regeneration programme in order to determine the level of preservation of the remains of Sheffield’s castle and later industrial development.

This will help to shape the future development and enhancement of the former Castle Markets site on Exchange Street.

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Mili Rajic, Project Manager at Wessex Archaeology, who is running the project, said:

“We are delighted to be working with Sheffield City Council, Friends of Sheffield Castle and The University of Sheffield on this project which has such significance for the city. There has been a lot of interest in this site both in terms of its history and of plans for the future from the local community, so we are delighted that we have so many people and local organisations helping us on this dig.  We look forward to reporting back soon with a progress update.”

This evaluation work will provide the first opportunity to understand the archaeology of the whole site using modern scientific techniques. The project is a fantastic opportunity to understand more about Sheffield’s medieval past, much of which was lost during the 19th and 20th century development of the city. The trenches will provide the chance to excavate sections across the full width of the medieval castle and moat and in the process reveal more of Sheffield’s early history.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment at SCC, said:

“This is an exciting project which will both shed light on Sheffield’s lesser known history and help to shape the future of this key site in the regeneration of the Castlegate quarter. The close involvement of the Universities and the Friends of the Castle is also a great example of the importance of our partners in Castlegate.”

The first trench - thought to be one of the castle's gatehouses
The first trench – thought to be one of the castle’s gatehouses

The project will also include opportunities for volunteers to take part and for the public to visit the excavations on a series of open days.

Martin Gorman from Friends of Sheffield Castle said:

“This is the first time excavations have taken place on the site of Sheffield Castle for nearly 20 years so the Friends of Sheffield Castle are naturally excited and delighted to see work start. We very much look forward to working with Wessex Archaeology, the Sheffield City Council and The University of Sheffield on this project and are pleased that our Members and the public have the opportunity to also get involved in the work.’’

John Moreland, The University of Sheffield said:

“We are delighted that Wessex Archaeology’s excavations, the first extensive professional campaign on the site of Sheffield Castle, are about to take place.  We look forward to working in partnership with Wessex, Friends of Sheffield Castle and the City Council to develop our long-standing interest in the castle, and in the regeneration of Castlegate.”

Archaeological dig at Sheffield Castle site – in pictures