I have a guest blog post from an intrepid young man with a keen interest in history and a lot to say on the matter. Think Indiana Jones, but still in primary school! Here’s 10-year-old James, who came to the site with his mum and made some fantastic discoveries in Trench 1, while also bringing a new perspective to all of us at the site. 

Jams Duncan volunteering at Sheffield Castle

My name is James and I went to do some digging on the Sheffield Castle site. I'm 10 and I found out about the Sheffield Castle when I was in Year 4 and we did a project about it. I was really interested that for 9 years of my life I hadn't a clue Sheffield had ever had a castle! I love history, especially the ancient Greeks, so when I heard about the dig, I was extra excited. I would love to be an archaeologist when I grow up because I enjoy finding out new things and that's what archaeologists get to do as they scrape back the layers.

My day on-site was exciting as well as eventful. Firstly, we were shown around the site and told about all the trenches that were being excavated. The site was huge and larger than I expected. Me and my mum were put into Trench 1 where we had to dig a certain area to level it off. When Isabelle, the University of Sheffield student, came down to the trench after sampling some soils, she told me to dig in a different area and try to uncover more of the cobbles (hoped to be medieval). The soil there was an orangey red colour. Using my trowel to gently scrape away the dense earth, I uncovered plenty of bones, fragments of pottery and even some metal. Another interesting artefact I discovered was a Victorian pipe bowl, which was made of clay. It was a fantastic feeling to be able to hold and see something that had been lost under layers of dirt for over 100 years. 

Eventually me and my mum were told to work together to clean up the area of the cobbles. It was hard work because you had to bend over, and it made your back ache, but we did a good job using our hands, the trowel and I also used a brush. When we finished, it was amazing to see the cobbled area that we had excavated and experience what Mary Queen of Scots may have experienced as well. I had a fantastic time and all the people there were helpful and kind in every possible way. It would be awesome to go back to have another crack at it and see what else has been found.

I learnt that the castle had been covered by so many different things, like Victorian industry, as well as the market and that being an archaeologist uses so much technology. Plus, they have to be so specific with what is recorded. We have to say exactly where something came from!

James Duncan