Archaeologists have been using science to find out more about the history of a 13th century castle which once stood in Sheffield.
The work is being carried out by specialists from Wessex Archaeology to assist with the city council’s redevelopment plans for the area.
The castle was built on a bedrock promontory at the confluence of the rivers Don and Sheaf, a short distance from Manor Lodge – a vast green space used for deer hunting for many centuries.
Mary Queen of Scots was incarcerated at the castle and in its estates various times between 1570 and 1584, a reflection of the site’s political importance. The area around it – now known as Castlegate – was an important centre for the production of leather, pottery, and other materials.
The castle was destroyed in 1648 and its remains were covered by Castle Market in the 1960s.
Excavated various times over the last century, the most recent research has focused on core samples from Castlegate to build up a greater understanding of what the landscape would have been like centuries ago.
Key findings from a borehole survey conducted last year have included more information about the moat to the northeast of the site, which exploited a former channel of the River Sheaf.
Analysis has also revealed that in some places the castle ‘motte’ – the mound on which the structure was built – was at least 50 metres in diameter.
The investigations will feature on BBC Two’s Digging for Britain on Sunday, 22 January at 8pm.
One of the show’s presenters, archaeologist Dr Cat Jarman, who visited Wessex Archaeology’s labs to find out more, said: ‘This is such an exciting example of how science can reveal the nature of a site that is otherwise completely lost to us.’
‘Sheffield Castle was once an imposing part of the local landscape and to find evidence of its substantial motte helps us understand the castle’s role in the city’s development,’ Jarman added.
Meanwhile, Milica Rajic, Infrastructure Director at Wessex Archaeology, said: ‘By analysing sediments from the borehole core samples we have been able to add more to the existing knowledge and provide a greater understanding of the history of Sheffield Castle.’
‘We’re excited that our work has helped to pinpoint in more detail how the people who built this impressive castle may have exploited the natural gradients and river channels the landscape offered,’ Rajic said.
Wessex Archaeology, one of the UK’s leading archaeology and heritage companies as well as an educational charity, previously worked on the Castlegate site in 2018.