Pontefract Castle
Pontefract Castle

Castle News

Current Update

In line with Government guidance Pontefract Castle grounds are open as normal and the Liquorice Café is serving takeaway food and drink.

The Gift shop will open from 13 April.

Our toilets are OPEN but our play area and activity zone are CLOSED.

To ensure that the castle remains safe and enjoyable for everyone, please stick to social distancing guidelines and limits on meeting others.

For more information from Wakefield Council, visit: http://bit.ly/CoronaWFD

Pontefract Castle Wins Pontefract Civic Society Design Award

In January 2020 we were delighted to receive a Pontefract Civic Society Design Award. The Heritage Award acknowledged the significant conservation work that had taken place at the castle, improving visitor facilities and preserving the castle for the future, and resulting in the removal of the castle from Historic England's Heritage At Risk Register.

Paul Cartwright, Chair of Pontefract Civic Society said,"I am incredibly pleased with these projects and proud that Pontefract Civic Society can highlight these business and Pontefract Castle as success stories".

Pontefract Civic Society Design Award
New Playground at Pontefract Castle

Exciting Castle Play Area!

Young visitors to Pontefract Castle can have even more fun with our castle themed play area, located next to our Visitor Centre and Liquorice Cafe.

The wooden play area features exciting equipment including a battering ram swing, drawbridge, ramparts, cargo nets, two slides and more. It incorporates challenging and engaging play opportunities and is a high-quality, bespoke design especially for Pontefract Castle.

The Pontefract North ward councillors and the Council have funded this project which will be enjoyed by many young people in their community as well as visitors to our much-loved castle.

We Uncovered the Medieval Gatehouse!

A project to excavate the gatehouse at Pontefract Castle took place in August 2020.

Funded by Historic England and delivered by archaeologists from Dig Ventures, the project was an opportunity to carry out further investigation of the gatehouse following the unexpected discovery of the remains of a barbican and drawbridge pit during the Key to the North project in 2016. Wakefield Council was supported and advised on the excavations by Historic England and our partners at West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service (WYAAS).

The excavations revealed some interesting mason's marks and artefacts that helped to date the gatehouse as well as an 8m deep drawbridge pit!

We are currently waiting for the excavation report and hope to share some of the fascinating facts about the gatehouse later in the year. If you want to see the excavations then you need to be quick as we are planning to cover them up again in late 2021 to conserve the archaeology and re-instate the path and steps up to the main bailey.

Dig the Gatehouse
No longer At Risk

Pontefract Castle No Longer 'At Risk'

The Key to the North project was completed in 2019 and on Yorkshire Day Historic England announced to hundreds of castle visitors that it would be removing the castle from its Heritage At Risk register where it had been listed since 2003.

This was one of the key aims of the project and is an acknowledgement of the commitment by Wakefield Council to protect our heritage for future generations. The £5 million project, which included a stunning new visitor centre, extensive conservation of the monument, a viewing platform, new paths and a bandstand, was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, the Council, the Wolfson Foundation and landfill charity EpaC.

If you haven't been for a while, now is the time to visit. We look forward to welcoming you soon!

The Key to the North Project Is Complete!

Work on the £5million Key to the North project is complete. You can now explore new paths and walkways around our beautifully conserved historic ruins, discovering stories from the castle's turbulent history on our brand-new interpretation boards along the way. 

Don't miss our fantastic Visitor Centre, with its brilliant museum space and cafe!

Benches have been dotted around the site and handrails and new fences added to improve safety. For people who use wheelchairs, the site is now much more accessible than before, and allows everyone to visit almost all areas of the castle. 

The huge amount of conservation work that has taken place across the site has helped to preserve the castle's heritage for current and future generations.

Watch the video below for an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the project!

The Key to the North is complete

Media Enquiries

If you have a media enquiry, please contact our press office at pressoffice@wakefield.gov.uk 

Our press office is available from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

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