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

Works on site are still continuing with the final stages of conservation work taking place on the keep and curtain wall, while the weather remains relatively mild.

As the weather gets colder, our works team will be unable to use the lime mortar needed to secure the stonework, as it needs to be above freezing to set. Once the works on the keep are complete, the scaffolding will start to come down and the keep will be revealed once more.

Our contractors have also moved onto creating the new paths around the site including one which goes from the main gate, around the Keep to the bakehouse and brewhouse. We are hoping to install benches around the paths allowing visitors to rest and enjoy the views of the newly conserved ruins.

The new paths to the northern ramparts

Works to the sally port are also continuing with new retaining walls and a solid floor being put in place to enable visitors to enter the space once works are complete.

Visitors to the site may also notice that our historic wall heads now have a soft capping of grass. This is a conservation technique that helps to reduce rainwater flow down through the stonework and frost damage.

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.

The sallyport and curtain wall