DigVentures at Pontefract Castle

Unearthing the medieval gatehouse at one of England’s strongest fortresses

This autumn, Pontefract Castle is excited to welcome the DigVentures team to unearth what was partly discovered during works in 2016.

In 2016, while doing some conservation work, archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology discovered a previously unknown structure. But what exactly was it?

Initial research suggests that it might be part of some important new defenses that were added to the castle when the gatehouse was redeveloped in the 1300s. This discovery radically changes our understanding of the castle's history, because apart from one painting from 1560, there's hardly any record of these reinforcements, and why or how they were made.

What it might have looked like, how much of it remains below the ground, and whether we can find any evidence for when this redevelopment might have taken place are all questions that the DigVentures team are hoping to answer!

Pontefract Castle
Meet The Team

Check out the daily updates and up-to-the minute action from the dig.

Won't be able to make it to the dig? Take a Virtual Tour of the gatehouse here!


Take Part!

The five-week excavation (taking place from October to November 2019) isn't just for professional archaeologists - it is open for everyone to join in. Both adults and children can join the archaeological team, learning how to investigate a nationally important piece of history while also helping to reveal new details about the iconic castle at the heart of Pontefract.

Whether you'd like to watch from the comfort of your own armchair at home, help out in the finds room, or roll up your sleeves and get stuck into the mud on site, we can guarantee there's something for you.

Using aerial photography, a 3D model will be created of the site that will allow the public to interact with the castle from all angles online on the DigVentures website.

Archaeology Daily Tours
Tour the site and see the day's discoveries from the gatehouse dig.
Dig Experience
An opportunity for adults and children 12 and older to take part in the dig.
Make A 3D Artefact
Use digital photography to create a 3D virtual artefact.
Digventures, Historic England and West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service