Castle Bid

August 2016

Welcome to August news

Nottingham Castle Transformation newsletter

This month, we feature:

August newsHLF bid is submitted

Object of the month – Breech loading cannon

Scott on planning for archaeology

Castle Open days – free visit opps in September

Here’s what the project team has been up to in the past month:

HLF Project Visit – Preparations have already started for the Heritage Lottery Fund project visit due to take place before their final decision on funding is made in November, 2016.

This visit from HLF staff and Trustees is the opportunity to showcase our plans for the Castle and is an incredibly important part of the bid submission process for major grants projects.

Caudwell visit – During August we were lucky enough to host a visit from Caudwell Children, a charity providing family support services, equipment, treatment and therapies for disabled children and their families across the UK.

10 children along with their families and the team at Caudwell Children spent a fun filled day at the Castle, and were happy to give us some feedback specifically relating to provision of disability facilities onsite and also share their views on the proposals for the Castle as part of the Transformation project.

A great day was had by all and we very much enjoyed meeting everyone at Caudwell Children.

The project team is pictured above

Left: Richard Hamblin (Project Director), Centre: Cal Warren (Programme Manager), Right: Faye Sadler (Project Officer)

HLF submission image

The HLF bid is submitted

This month, we announced the final bid has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund and marked the occasion by celebrating a thousand years of history.

Have a look at this report from Notts TV

Cannon excavations

Object feature

What is it? August’s selection is the barrel of a breech-loading cannon excavated from a well in Richard’s Tower on the Nottingham Castle site.

The image to the left shows the barrel at the bottom and pictures from the 1970s archaeology dig.

Why is it significant? – It is a rare example of a small, fifteenth or sixteenth century, wrought iron, rear or breech-loading cannon of a type first recorded at the Castle in 1525. It may have been brought here as an obsolete gun during the Civil War, but is more likely to have been part of the original armament of Richard’s Tower.

Tell me more – The barrel which is 1.5 metres long and weighs 25 kilograms would originally have sat on an oak stock or bed secured by iron binding straps. X-ray analysis has shown that it was made up of 32 parts some of which were excavated with the barrel, although the iron powder chamber used to load it was missing. Its small size suggests that it may have been used primarily as an anti-personnel weapon, firing shot rather than single cannonballs. This type of construction makes it directly comparable with guns from the sixteenth century Cattewater Wreck discovered in England in 1973 onPlymouth Sound.

In our opinion – When King Charles came to Nottingham in 1642, to raise his standard and signal the commencement of the Civil War, he was shaken by the lack of support mustered, this would have been a great loss to the Royalist’s campaign – Nottingham Castle was always regarded as a key stronghold, due to the proximity to Trent Bridge and access to Sherwood Forest.

Before the Royalists left the Castle, they made any armaments they couldn’t take with them useless; hence throwing it down the well.

So, the interesting historical fact about this cannon is, why the piece was not used in fighting during the Civil War.

The cannon is currently on display in the ‘Fragments’ section of the History Gallery.


National Heritage Open Day and Nottingham Mela – Visit the Castle for Free!

There are two chances to visit the Castle for free on 10 and 11 September

The Castle will be open for free on Saturday 10 September as part of Heritage Open Weekend. Read all about it at the Facebook event page

On Sunday 11 September, the Mela festival fills Nottingham Castle for a full day extravaganza.

It is part of Nottingham’s annual South Asian, three-day spectacular of music, dance, film screenings, sports, family friendly activities and delicious cuisine.

You can read more about the Mela at


Scott’s facts and findings

Welcome to Scott’s eighth column. In this edition, he gives a small insight into archaeology within the planning process…

“The application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the transformation works at the Castle was submitted in July, and soon after, the planning application was submitted for the proposals to redevelop parts of the site.

The proposals include a new Visitor Centre, an extension within the Service Courtyard to provide a new Rebellion Gallery, plans to improve access to the caves and open up more of the Castle’s caves, a new play area and various landscaping and hardscaping works.”

Which areas require planning consent?
“Nottingham Castle is a highly significant site in terms of archaeology. The medieval castle was largely destroyed in 1651, and major landscaping works took place in advance of building the Ducal Palace and again during the Victorian period when renovating the Castle to form the museum and art gallery. However, significant remains of the foundations of the medieval castle survive, buried beneath the ground as well as elements of the castle that can be seen above ground such as the bridges, part of the gatehouse and the northeast tower. There are other features such as substantial ditches, which are preserved.

The site is so important that it consists of two Scheduled Monuments covering the area of the castle itself and all of the caves cut into the Castle Rock. Scheduled Monument status recognises the national importance of the site and the significant surviving remains”

What work has been done?
“As such great consideration has been given to the impact of the proposals upon buried archaeological remains. A team of archaeologists has been working at the Castle since April and some of their findings were included in last month’s newsletter. The results are currently being studied in detail and reports are being written. The preliminary results have been used to help guide the proposed developments by identifying ways in which development can take place in such a way that it minimises the impact of the building works on the archaeology. They also provide a better idea of what further archaeological work is needed.”

Aerial view

Who grants permission?

“Any development that impacts significant archaeology in the city is looked at by the City Council’s planning archaeologist who advises the planning department about whether a development is acceptable and what archaeological work is required. Any remains (features, structural remains or deposits) that significantly contribute to our understanding of the Castle have to be preserved but development can go ahead provided appropriate archaeological investigations take place. The detailed plans have now been carefully looked at to make sure the archaeology is fully considered and a comprehensive strategy written for its investigation.

In addition to planning permission, because the site is Scheduled, permission is also needed from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The Secretary of State receives advice from Historic England when reaching a decision. If the Secretary of State grants permission this is known as Scheduled Monument Consent.”

What happens if/when permission is granted?

“If planning permission is granted, and the Secretary of State grants Scheduled Monument Consent, not only will the Visitor Centre, Rebellion Gallery, greater access to more caves and other changes offer a greater visitor experience, but the excavations and other archaeological work will offer the opportunity to learn a great deal about the development of the Castle from when it was built shortly after the Norman Conquest, to its destruction in the 17th Century and the development of the site as the home of the Duke of Newcastle, and later the museum.”


Skeleton update

“In last month’s article I wrote that further details would be revealed about the skeleton found on the Green, which had long been thought to be a casualty of the English Civil War.

The radiocarbon dating has been completed by the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit and the results will be revealed soon. 

We intend to carry out further tests later this year to find out details of the man’s diet and whereabouts in the country he was born.”

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