As a group, we have our own opinions about the best future for Sheffield castle, but we’d very much like to hear your thoughts.

How much of the site could be conserved and made accessible to the public? Who should pay for this work?

At what point does the commercial value of the land out-weigh heritage interests? How do we begin to compare the two so the best decisions can be made?

Please share your opinions!


Comments

Your thoughts welcomed — 15 Comments

  1. Any thoughts on the tourism angle?

    Would a partial opening up eg – of the best surviving remains- be satisfactory?

    This project – the examination/investigation of the Castlehill and Markets Site is potentially bigger than the successful Heart of the City project. It would transform the image of Sheffield, open up Victoria Quays and regenerate the Markets area.

    But don’t underestimate the size of the task if its to be done properly.Let’s not be romantic about it.From what I hear its apparently high up on the Council’s agenda.
    Watch this space.

  2. Bearing in mind the need to conserve any surviving fabric [masonry] would the Sheffield public be happy to see the remains have a protective raft erected over them until technology is available to facilitate the remains being displayed? Wouldn’t that be seen as a cop out?

    What’s your thoughts?

    • If you really want the remains to be conserved they should never be excavated.

      If the value of the remains is in their visibility then it must be accepted that they will deteriorate over time.

      Halting decay will probably never happen outside the strict environmental control of a museum

      • Thanks for that Liz -good point. If the remains in concrete chambers had been exposed in the 1920’s they wouldn’t have lasted five minutes. I suspect the same would apply today.

        • So saying I would welcome their exposure and the positive impact that would bring to the city.
          This is IMPORTANT and it needs to be done – and done right – to gain maximum benefit to the city.

          A lot can be done with conservation – lets see the ruins and let others see them 🙂

  3. The City Council is soon going to have to make some hard decisions for the site of the Castle. The first one is the extent of the site they are prepared to see uncovered and left on the surface as a monument which the public can visit. We can only hope they are generous in this, remembering that tourists are also shoppers and eaters in restaurants. They should be bearing in mind this has the potential to be the City’s premier archaeological site and if anyone can name one more important will they post it on this forum, so we can all know what we are missing.

    Its time we all started to debate this. A recent decision by the Planning Inspectorate at Wincobank concerned an unscheduled part of the Roman Ridge. A planning application for housing had been refused by the Council under pressure from local people. They refused it aginst advice from planning officers and the South Yorkshire Archaeology Service who didn’t seem to catch on the Ridge passed through the site. Evidence submitted by the locals and their allies showed it did. Unfortunately the Ridge was not on the surface and the site was only its route but it is accessible to visitors and that is all part of the ambience of an archaeological monument. Not all of Hadrian’s Wall survives but the route and foundations of it are protected by the planning system from being built over.

    This is what we should want for the Castle. What cannot be Scheduled must be protected by the planning system. What’s the point in identifying it and uncovering it, to bury it for another 350 years. The site isn’t just a castle it’s probably where the City was founded and there are probably somewhere some remains of the Saxon burh. This is the original historic Sheffield and needs identifying as a site and being made open to the public.

    I am not posting new information here my understanding is that these uncomfortable facts have been known for years but I am not aware that they have been packaged as part of a decision making process. It seems to me the Council are viewing the Castle as one more development site and in fact we ought to be checking if it hasn’t been included as part of the argument for bring HS2 to the Victoria Station area. The HS2 could bring visitors to the the site and could sensibly highlight its importance, just as long as it hasn’t been identified as bringing a 1000 short terms jobs in 2033 or whenever. History is with us for the long run.

    The Friends of Sheffield Castle should be looking to prepare their own plan for the area in conjunction with the Council. The planning system allows willing parties to do this and there is help and government funding available. The process would sort out who is on board to bring a Castle back for Sheffield and who isn’t?

  4. I’m excited by this but how much of the castle still remains and is it sufficient for it to become a tourist attraction? A few exposed foundations will soon be forgotten. Look what York has done with a few Viking remains in the Jorvik centre, can something similar be done to show the history of Sheffield without it becoming tacky and what interest would there be outside our city with so many better castles to visit elsewhere. A park area down to the river featuring the castle remains could be attractive if the river side could be cleaned up, and what’s the possibility of linking it to Kelham Island with boats? (Not sure about weirs without checking a map)

    • Until the site is properly opened up, we don’t know for sure what remains, but undoubtedly there is more than currently on display!

    • People go round the country viewing castles so of course it has a massive potential for attracting tourists into Sheffield as well as local residents. Every one of us has no doubt traveled to visit castles. If handled correctly then the castle becomes a long term asset to the city. Any talk of the value of the land is merely short term thinking and as we all know it takes mature adults to make long term plans and follow them through.. we owe it to ourselves and to the city to commit to getting the castle restored and exhibited.

  5. Perhaps the best thing would be to talk to York Archaeology? and similar organisations for their ideas on what they would do? I’ve also talked to councillors who are talking about creating venues that would encourage visitors to stick around ie not just go and buy shoes but make a day of it so I suspect not all councillors want to pave it over. Given that Nottingham gets twice the number of tourists that Sheffield does this is an area that needs developing re tourism.
    Re present economic climate money is coming to community charitable groups still re Lottery but not to Councils so maybe there is a case for a charitable trust to take over the castle site and develop it as a historical tourist venue?

  6. One of the positive,very positive aspects that I can comment on from first hand knowledge is of the views of Sheffield City Senior Planners regarding a site which is in the very historic core of Sheffield.This is partially from a recent presentation given to Sheffield Civic Society and is actually based on a development called the ‘York Eye’ which I understand has been developed in York,a strategy which it is hoped to apply to Sheffield It will follow and enhance the excellent work carried out by the Council in opening up Sheffield’s rivers.

  7. Has anyone done a study of how far down the Castle remains might be? When it was sleighted in 1648 chances are that floors and certainly cellars, with whatever they might contain, could still exist. But if the moat on two sides was formed by joining up the Don and Sheaf around the castle site that’s quite a way down from Exchange Street level. Initial costs of removal of spoil from the Market building demolition will also be a tidy sum.

    • Nice to have a regular back on! Well John there are several desk top assessments that have been put together but I don’t recollect specific ‘depths’ being quoted from what I have seen.Investigations of the site have been limited in extent- so much so that I sometimes wonder as to whether some of them merit the title of ‘archaelogical investigations’ As you say its one heck of a job. Worth doing though,

      Best

      Ron

  8. It may be a big job but if there is some depth there must also be more chance of finding some useful archaeology especially as damp conditions can preserve timber and leather. There are also have much better research methods these days that can tell so much from small items such as pollen grains. And if we found signs of a Saxon hall wouldn’t that be great?

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