Work in progress
Work in progress

Pontefract Castle Key to the North Project

What does the project involve?

The Key to the North Project is a £3.5 million project at Pontefract Castle which includes conservation work to the monument, a new visitor centre, café, gift shop and museum, and site developments that will allow parts of the castle not seen by the public since 1649 to be opened up.

Work on site is progressing well and visitors are already commenting on what a difference it has made to the castle.  If you haven't visited for a while why not come along and see what's going on.

The project also funds a programme of events and activities including living history events, workshops, talks, tours and family activity days which help to attract more visitors to the castle.

People can get involved in the project as a volunteer.  If you have anything from a few hours a month to a few hours each day and a passion for Pontefract and it's Castle then read the Volunteer With Us page to find out how you could be involved.

This project is possible thanks to the following supporters: Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, Wakefield Council, The Wolfson Foundation, Epac and the Friends of Pontefract Castle.


Project Update

Machinery is currently being used to dig out the ground around the Sally Port, under the careful watch of our archaeologists, conservation architect and Historic England. However work has now slowed due to the discovery of some exciting new archaeology!

In the last month archaeologists have uncovered a long forgotten extension of the outer face of the Piper Tower. The extension almost doubles the area of the tower and looks to have provided added protection for the Sally Port, which was right next to it.

From the remains it appear that the tower was later pulled down or destroyed and the footings were then reused as a Civil Wars gun emplacement when the castle was being bombarded by cannon fire in the spring of 1644.

The Piper Tower

New stonework including walls and a paved floor has been unearthed meaning that our architects are redesigning the work so that visitors will be able to come and view the floor once conservation works are completed!

Our Volunteer Scheme now has 63 people involved in supporting the work at the castle. They are all doing a fantastic job and have given over 2500 hours of their time since the project started. Volunteers have been busy helping with events, dungeon tours, site maintenance and will soon help with school visits now that our activity zone is open. If you are interested in becoming one of our volunteers please look at our Volunteer With Us page.

Please note that due to the project taking place some areas of the castle are currently closed.

Newly uncovered remains of the Piper Tower