Digging deeper into Castle's story

Posted on: Monday, January 15, 2024

Newark Castle will be home to a team of archaeologists from this week as an exciting dig commences. Its aim is to reveal more about the Castle’s historic layout, tracing the structure of a stable building which was in situ at least 200 years ago.

A previous dig by Salford Archaeology in 2018 found a narrow portion of the structure while plans and drawings from 1823, 1843 and 1885 also reveal sections. However, this new excavation hopes to unveil its full span with a fenced-off trench of around 20m x 5m being dug in the grounds between the Gatehouse and Beastmarket Hill. No trees will be harmed during the work and while some parts of path, steps and shrubs will need to be removed, these will be replaced and mended after.

As well as providing a fascinating insight into how the site has developed over time, the results of the dig will also help to inform the Castle’s next chapter: the National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported development of the Gatehouse as a visitor attraction and the building of a brand-new community facility in the area where the stables once stood. If a preserved wall is discovered, the hope is that this can be exposed and used tastefully as part of the new space which is set to host local groups, learning visits and more.

Councillor Rowan Cozens, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and the Arts at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “Newark Castle is such a beloved icon in our local community and any opportunity to learn more about its past should be seized wholeheartedly. I’m excited to see what will be discovered by the dig which is looking to explore areas which haven’t been unearthed in many years.”

Work on site is expected to take around 3 weeks but this is subject to change based on weather and any discoveries made.

The news comes in the wake of the recent local discovery of the Roman dodecahedron at Norton Disney which featured on BBC’s Digging for Britain and is now on display at Newark’s own National Civil War Centre until April.

Sarah Clarke, Project Development Manager for the Newark Castle Building Bridges Project, said: “You never know what you’re going to uncover on a dig, especially on a site as rich in history as our own spectacular Newark Castle. It’s been the home of a bishop, seen the death of King John, been taken apart by townspeople rebuilding after the Civil War and much more, and I can’t wait to see which stories it will tell us next.