Here’s how you can take part in an archeological dig at Pontefract’s historic castle

History buffs have the chance to get involved with an archaeological dig at Pontefract Castle.

By James Carney
Friday, 11th October 2019, 1:20 pm
Updated Friday, 11th October 2019, 2:20 pm
DigVentures team's archaeological dig at Pontefract Castle..
DigVentures team's archaeological dig at Pontefract Castle..

Experts have moved onto the site to unearth the castle’s gatehouse and drawbridge pit to find out more about its medieval defences.

In 2016, archaeologists carrying out conservation work discovered that a substantial amount of the castle’s main gatehouse still survives below ground.

And now a team from DigVentures, appointed by Wakefield Council, will host free tours of the site and hands-on opportunities to take part in the dig. Chris Casswell, head of fieldwork at DigVentures, said: “We think the remains were part of some important new defences that were added to the gatehouse protecting the castle’s main entrance in the 1300s.

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“There’s hardly any record of these reinforcements, and why or how they were made.

“By unearthing the gatehouse and drawbridge pit, we should be able to find out more about how the medieval castle was fortified, and what the main entrance would have looked like in the 1300s.” Starting out as a small wooden fort in 1070, the castle was later rebuilt in stone.

In the medieval period, new fortifications were added and it was transformed into such a formidable stronghold that when Oliver Cromwell attacked in 1649, he called it “one of the strongest inland garrisons in the kingdom”.

To see what’s on and find out how to join a hands-on event, visit