Council reacts to plan for hotel, bars, homes, shops, outdoor venue and history centre at site of Sheffield’s medieval castle

A group’s proposals to turn the location of Sheffield’s medieval castle into a vibrant destination featuring a hotel, shops, bars, homes and illuminated ruins will be included in ‘a range of scenarios’ for the site, says the city council – which is expected to reveal its own plan shortly.

Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 5:00 pm

The Friends of Sheffield Castle, a voluntary group set up to promote and protect the stronghold’s heritage, has published a blueprint setting out the types of development members would like to see following an archaeological dig that made fresh discoveries under the demolished Castle Market.

The fortress’s gatehouse could be rebuilt, it is suggested, forming a focal point for an attraction displaying the best of the remains.

An elevated walkway would be put up across the site, giving visitors the chance to peer at ruins that are below the current ground level, while a history centre would tell the story of the lost castle and Sheffield's beginnings.

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A CGI image by Sheffield University, showing how Sheffield Castle looked in medieval times. The Friends group says the gatehouse could be reconstructed.

Offices and homes are envisaged along the site's boundaries, as well as cafés and craft shops, all with the aim of attracting more people. The Friends believe developments could be paid for with a mix of public and private investment.

The blueprint links with the council’s own ambitions to regenerate Castlegate, towards which it has already pledged nearly £800,000 of ‘kickstart’ money.

Together with partners such as the Friends, both Sheffield universities and the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust, the authority is producing a plan that will be put to public consultation in the new year. This is likely to incorporate a ‘pocket park’ that would be created by opening up the River Sheaf on part of the land where the market once stood.

Simon Ogden, Sheffield Council’s Castlegate programme director, said: “Sheffield Council welcomes the Friends of Sheffield Castle’s initiative. Through the Castlegate Partnership we are already working with them and others to include their ideas in a range of scenarios for the development of the castle site.

Simon Ogden of Sheffield Council overlooking the former Castle Market site. Picture: Dean Atkins

“Together, the Castlegate Partnership plans to present these scenarios for public consultation in January 2020.”

The Friends say the scheme could have wider benefits, complementing the Heart of the City II development and the revamp of The Moor where Sheffield’s indoor market moved in 2015, and providing a much-needed link to Victoria Quays at the end of the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal.

Sheffield Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned for more than a decade, fell during the Civil War when it came under siege from 1,200 Parliamentary troops. Experts believe they have found evidence of around 1,000 years of constant activity there, as well as a 'motte and bailey phase' - these were fortifications that stood on top of a raised earthwork, representing the first proper castles to be built in Britain.

The archaeological excavation of the site of Sheffield Castle.
Martin Gorman, Dr David Clarke and Ron Clayton of the Friends of Sheffield Castle. Picture: Dean Atkins