This May, Wessex Archaeology is pleased to be a part of the community archaeology project which forms an important part of the HLF funded Pontefract Castle ‘Key to North’ project. The aim of the community project is to collect finds from a spoil heap deposited during the late 19th century on a group of buildings known as the Royal Apartments. The Royal Apartments are made up of the Queen’s Tower and King’s Tower which sit at either end of the Great Hall. As the name suggests, the towers contained bed chambers and provided a private living space for the occupants of the Castle. The spoil dumped on the Royal Apartments has the potential to contain remains collected from around the Castle site which the Victorian workers did not deem to be important and which relates to the planned dismantling of Pontefract Castle following the conclusion of the Civil War, which saw the site sieged three times between 1644 and 1649. 


As all the finds from the spoil heap are technically unstratified, the team are able to sieve the material in order to identify the finds. Wessex staff are being ably assisted by interested members of the public, including local school children. This Saturday, the team were joined by the York and Pontefract branches of the Young Archaeologists’ Club. Finds so far include medieval and post-medieval pottery, clay pipe fragments, animal and fish bones, oyster shell and very interestingly worked stone fragments from the Castle buildings itself. Other interesting finds include a musket and pistol shot which could also relate directly to the Civil War sieges. Work is set to continue for the next two weeks and will conclude on Saturday 21 May. 
There are still some places left on the afternoon sessions. To book, please contact the Castle team on 01924 302700 or for more information please email
You can download the flyer here.