Augmented reality brings Sheffield’s lost castle to life

New piece gives most vivid look yet at how castle may have looked

One of the most powerful castles in medieval northern England can now be viewed for the first time since it was erased from the face of its city hundreds of years ago, thanks to an interactive augmented reality experience developed by researchers at the University of Sheffield.

The augmented reality experience, which has been developed as part of an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project led by Professor Dawn Hadley and Professor John Moreland from the University’s Department of Archaeology, is giving people an opportunity to see Sheffield Castle in unprecedented detail.

Visitors to the experience will be able to see a full virtual model of the castle in what is believed to be the most accurate visual impression of the castle ever produced.

Developed in collaboration with Sheffield-based creative agency Human and a team of computer scientists at the University led by Dr Steve Maddock, the AR experience is based on research by University of Sheffield archaeologists on material uncovered from excavations at the castle in the 1920s and 1950s that is currently curated by Museums Sheffield.

Professor Dawn Hadley said: “Sheffield Castle was almost completely destroyed during the English Civil War and most of what does remain of its original structure has been hidden away from the public for hundreds of years. This is one of the main reasons why the castle and its history are largely unknown, but now we hope that with the creation of this augmented reality experience people will be able to see the castle in all of its glory and learn more about its fascinating history.”

The impressive drawbridge at Sheffield Castle
The impressive drawbridge at Sheffield Castle

Professor John Moreland added: “Sheffield Castle has a remarkable history but it’s a real shame that its story is not as well-known as some of the more popular castles in the north of England. It was a Royalist stronghold during the civil war and it was seen as such a threat and strategically important that parliamentary forces ordered it to be destroyed. Its history is also closely connected to the birth of the city of Sheffield, so we hope that the new augmented reality model will enable people to explore this forgotten chapter of Sheffield’s medieval origins.”

Sheffield Castle was once one of the grandest and most powerful in the north of medieval England. It was home to some of the great families of the time – including the de Furnivals, Nevils, Shrewsburys and Howards.

Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner there for 14 years between 1570 and 1584, before she was executed in 1587. The castle was then destroyed by Parliament following the Civil War in 1646.

Nick Bax, Creative Director of Human said: “This formidable medieval castle is an important part of Sheffield’s past that many people are unaware of. We are thrilled to have been involved in returning it to the memory of the city together with academics from the University of Sheffield and hope that it will help to forge a new future for the Castlegate area.”

The AR experience is set to be unveiled for the public to view as part of Festival of the Mind – a 10 day city-wide festival showcasing some of the latest pioneering research from the University in collaboration with Sheffield’s creative, cultural and digital industries.

The exhibition runs from Thursday 20 September to Thursday 27 September 2018 in the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield.

For more information on this free event

The University of Sheffield
The University of Sheffield
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