Project update – April
Here is the project news for April
Gatehouse Bridge – Visitors to the Castle over the last month will undoubtedly have noticed the fencing on and around the gatehouse bridge. As mentioned in Scott’s archaeology column last month, this is due to the recent archaeological excavations that have been undertaken on the bridge.
The reason for the excavation was to better understand the construction of the bridge, to establish at what depth historical elements of the bridge exist and to what extent it has been altered during the 19th and 20th centuries.
As these investigations wind up over the coming weeks, this area will return to normal.
Activity Plan – April has seen the soft launch of our Activity Plan. This is a really exciting time for the project as we start to work with different groups across the city to celebrate the Castle and its history and involve members of the public in the transformation of our wonderful site. We now enter the planning phase for each of the 86 projects within the Activity Plan, with some ready to start in earnest as early as next month. Watch this space for future developments!
Collections on the move! – Plans are afoot at the Castle to ensure the safe storage of our wonderful collections during the construction phase of the project.
Our collections currently on display and in storage at the castle will need to be taken off site during the works for their own protection. This is a mammoth undertaking, and the planning is well advanced.
One of the first jobs to prepare for the decant will be the creation of thousands of wads of acid free tissue – if there are any willing volunteers out there who would like to help with this please get in touch!
‘Finding Robin’ at the Radio Nottingham Big Day Out – Sunday 30 April
Come and be Robin Hood with the Castle Transformation Team!
Come and join us on the Big Day Out on Sunday. We’ll be in the project lab and will be exploring all things Robin Hood (and Maid Marian)
We’re going to explore what people think Robin Hood would have looked like. Was he all in green? What colour was his hair? Did he have a beard? Today, you decide!
We’re going to be using this as research for our Robin Hood Gallery so we might ask you a few questions but there is plenty of fun to be had…
Photo booth – Dress up as you think the outlaw would have looked and get a picture taken
Arts and crafts – Draw your own Robin Hood and/or Maid Marian
Story time – A chance to sit and listen to some Robin Hood tales with our wonderful story-teller Laura Fryer
The project lab will open from 10.30
The first storytelling will be at 11.30 and then 12.30. 1.30. 2.30. 3.30
For more information on Big Day Out and the other attractions in Nottingham that will open their doors, please read to the bottom of the newsletter.
Another Nottingham Castle!
We’ve found another Castle!
Sent to us via Facebook from New Zealand, this version is in a small town called Morrinsville! It’s a restaurant and hotel, so if you’re ever in New Zealand and feeling a bit homesick…
If you have any ideas on why New Zealand and Nottingham may be connected then please drop us a line.
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Object of the month – Luddite sword
Our wonderful new acquisition of the Luddite Sword (mentioned in the previous newsletter) was featured recently on Notts TV.
Watch the interview as Simon Brown (Creator-Community History) and Richard Gaunt (Curator of Rebellion – pictured) explain the history and significance of the piece.
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East Midlands Consortia Regional Event
The project was recently represented at the prestigious heritage conference – Challenging Times: The World Turned Upside Down held at the National Civil War Centre in Newark.
The conference was to look at how museums, historic houses and heritage sites can develop their audiences and manage change.
Cal Warren Nottingham Castle Project, Programme Manager delivered a workshop called ‘Heritage Counts’ on developing the economic and social impact of Nottingham Castle.
She explained some of the issues and history of the site and the preconceived ideas of visitors on what they might find on site, then explained how the project team made the case for the transformation project and won support for the £13.9m from Heritage Lottery Fund.
Cal also stressed the importance of support from local businesses and decision makers and offered a few facts to help delegates with their own bids.
Did you know the visitor economy in the East Midlands is £1.26bn with 22k people working in heritage?
Each £1 spent on heritage earns £1.60 for surrounding businesses and that visiting a heritage attraction will make a person 8.1% happier. That’s definitely something to go and try out!
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Welcome to the fourteenth column from City Archaeologist, Scott Lomax. This month, he explores the relatively recent history of some of the city’s caves and other archaeological sites.
“Over the past few weeks I have been looking through historic newspapers. During the course of this work a number of very important pieces of new information about Nottingham Castle have been found and I will be writing about some of these in this newsletter over the coming months.
Perhaps the most significant of these is the identification of yet another cave which, during the medieval period, led into the ground of Nottingham Castle, which has been forgotten about for nearly 200 years.
In February 1828, labourers were engaged in creating a ‘new Carriage Road’ from the top end of Castle Road, adjacent to the Castle Gatehouse, leading into the Park. This road is that which is known today as Lenton Road. A road/trackway had existed here prior to 1828, having been built in the very early 19th century. However, it was widened and improved in 1828. Newspaper articles of May 1828 confirm this road to have been known as ‘the new road’.
During the works, the workmen broke into the roof of the subterranean passage…
(L) North-west passage 1956 looking up (R) North-west passage 1956 looking down
“Inspection of the passage, and limited excavation, took place during February and March 1828. It was recorded that the floor of the passage was approximately 4-5m below the ground surface. The tool marks, carved into the walls and ceiling of the passage, when the cave was hewn out of the sandstone bedrock, were described as being ‘fresh’. A stone wall blocked access to what was believed to be another passage.”
The facts and figures – “The passage was recorded as ‘extending for 40-50 yards [36.6-45.7m] in a winding direction’ with one end leading to an ‘ancient, but finely formed doorway, arched over with solid masonry’. The other end led to a spiral staircase, cut into the sandstone, which passed ‘under the Wall which encompasses the Castle Yard.’ The Castle Yard is today known as The Green and was, during the Medieval period, the Middle Bailey of the castle. It was said that this cave passage was wide enough to allow three or four persons to walk abreast.”
Comparison to other caves – This 1828 discovery is certainly not the same cave known as the North-western Passage/ Davy Scot’s Hole, which was rediscovered in 1936 by George Campion, further investigated in 1956 by the Peverel Research Group, and largely laser surveyed in 2010 by Trent & Peak Archaeology. That cave, which is accessible from the garden of 2 Castle Grove, also leads into the area known as the Green which was the Middle Bailey of the Castle during the medieval period. However, the 1828 discovery was more than 50m away. It is possible both passages were contemporary and they probably have some similarities in terms of appearance. The photos accompanying this article are of the cave known as the North-western passage, but give some idea of what part of the cave passage discovered in 1828 may look like.”
Observations – “It is remarkable that something so well-known in 1828 could have been entirely forgotten about. Researchers of the Castle’s history, writing in the 19th and early 20th centuries, were seemingly unaware of this discovery or, they chose not to write about it.
There is the strong likelihood that part, if not all, of this cave passage still survives. It is also quite possible that other passages and chambers exist in and around the castle that are waiting to be rediscovered.
This further shows that there is still so much more to learn about the castle. Ongoing documentary research carried out by Nottingham City Museums and Galleries, along with excavations to be undertaken in the coming years, offer the very real prospect that significant amounts of knowledge will be acquired that will continue to totally change our understanding of this nationally important site.”
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Big Day Out
Many museums and heritage tourist attractions across Nottinghamshire are offering free entry to their exhibits for the next “Big Day Out” on Sunday 30 April 2017.
This includes the Castle which is open from 10am-5pm
The event is a celebration of the county’s history and heritage and is organised by BBC Radio Nottingham. Thousands of people took part in last year’s event.
A full list of venues taking part in this year’s event is available online at www.bbc.co.uk/radionottingham or for further details or pick up a guide from the Nottingham Tourism Centre.
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1940s Knees-up – Monday 1 May
Relive the life and times of the 1940s with this fabulous wartime event at Nottingham Castle and the Museum of Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard.
Experience life on the home and military fronts during wartime, including military displays, music, dancing and a Mark IX Spitfire, new for this year. Watch the Swing Dancers and listen to Johnny Victory & Nostalgia Unlimited or Jayne Darling & the Kalamazoo Dance Band.
Displays will be presented by Jump 44 (508th Parachute Infantry Regiment), 1940s St John and the Sherwood Rangers.
The fun takes place from 11am to 3.30pm at Brewhouse Yard and 11am to 4pm at the Castle.
Tickets are £8 for adults, £6 for concessions and children or £20 for a family ticket (up to 2 adults & 2 children) plus booking fees. Buy them at the Gigantic website
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