We have started digging Sheffield Castle, the landmark of a planned Norman Sheffield town, one of the largest castles in the north of England, and a place where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned. On Monday morning, even before some of us managed to have a first cup of coffee, we were on the air. BBC Radio Sheffield Breakfast Show interview was in full swing when Wessex Archaeology’s team, lead by Ashley Tuck, started opening the first of eleven evaluation trenches positioned to gather information on the archaeological deposits of the former castle. We are also investigating the later industrial, residential and commercial activity within the Castle Markets. Professor John Moreland, (from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield) was with us on the opening day, along with Councillor Mazher Iqbal (cabinet member for business and investment at Sheffield City Council); Dinah Saich (principal Archaeologist for South Yorkshire Archaeological Services and archaeological advisor to Sheffield County Council); Ron Clayton (of Friends of Sheffield Castle) and numerous journalists.
The rest of the week has not been much quieter! We have had numerous site visits from friends and colleagues from The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and the Friends of Sheffield Castle.
As for the archaeological results so far - Ash, Amy and Sam, from Wessex Archaeology, together with Isabelle, Paul, Georgina and James (the four students from The University of Sheffield) have been working in the upper part of the site.
Here, just 25 cm under the 20th century concrete floor of the demolished Castle Markets, we have found the remains of buildings related to the 19th century Castle Hill Steel Works, a possible cementation furnace and its external yard, part of a brick walled building and its partially surviving stone floor, a stone capped drain and wide 19th century sandstone boundary walls.
We will be back on Monday, 20 August when, for the rest of the excavation we will be joined by five volunteers every day.
We look forward to seeing you all!