The dig at Sheffield Castle has reignited public interest in the city’s medieval history, and now is the time to capitalise.
That’s according to a friends group, which believes the excavation has not only uncovered exciting new details about the castle but shown its potential as a major tourist attraction.
Archaeologists have unearthed evidence of the medieval castle, including a stone wall, a cobbled floor and the moat, during the nine-week dig, which is nearing its conclusion, at the old Castle Market site.
Members of the public leapt at the chance to lend experts a hand, with the limited volunteering slots snapped up within 48 hours.
And on Saturday more than 100 people attended a sold-out series of talks, where finds from the latest excavation and previous digs were on display.
David Clarke, journalism lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University and a trustee of the Friends of Sheffield Castle, was among the speakers and said he was thrilled by how the excavation has captured the public’s imagination.
“Thanks to the latest excavation, we know for sure there are substantial remains of the medieval castle that are preserved, which a lot of people had doubted,” he said.
“Now we need everyone to get round the table and decide what we’re going to do with that site.
“The interest this excavation’s generated has been amazing. It shows people are beginning to realise Sheffield has a history which existed long before the industrial revolution,back to the middle ages when we had this amazing castle.
“There have been numerous missed opportunities to do something with that site but hopefully people are finally waking up to its potential.
“There are plans to turn it into a pocket park and expose the River Sheaf, which runs underneath.
“My personal hope is that some part of the castle ruins which have been preserved, possibly the remains of the tower or the drawbridge, will be exposed and there will be some sort of visitor centre.”
Sheffield Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots was famously held captive, was demolished after being besieged during the Civil War.
Mr Clarke was joined at the Old Post Office in Fitzalan Square by representatives from Wessex Archaeology, which is conducting the dig; and John Moreland and Gareth Dean, from Sheffield University, who have been researching the extensive archives on the castle; while Museums Sheffield lent some of its artefacts.