Archaeologists to excavate Sheffield Castle where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned

Archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology will be conducting an excavation of Sheffield Castle in Sheffield, England.

Sheffield Castle was constructed following the Norman Conquest of England (1066) at the confluence of the River Sheaf and the River Don.

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The earliest known reference of the castle dates from 1188 in a text made by Ralph Murdac, sheriff of Derbyshire, concerning the wardship of Maud de Lovetot.

Of all the guests to stay at Sheffield Castle, the most notable was Mary, Queen of Scots, who was held prisoner within the castle and grounds at various periods between 1570 and 1584.

During the English Civil War, Parliamentarian forces besieged the castle, ultimately reducing it to rubble. No drawings or plans of the castle are known to have survived.

Image Credit : Wessex Archaeology

Throughout April and May of 2024, archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology will be conducting a series of excavations to uncover and preserve the foundations of the circular towers of the castle’s gatehouse, and explore the destruction deposits from the razing of the original motte and bailey castle by John D’Eyvill in the 13th century.

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The team will also be investigating areas never before excavated, finally reaching the remains of the 11th to 17th-century castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned.

Ashley Tuck, the archaeologist leading the dig on behalf of Wessex Archaeology, said: “Once a commanding centre of power for more than 600 years, the castle was left as a ruin by the Parliamentarians at the end of the Civil War as a symbol of its defeat.”

“Since then, the remains of this once-dominating structure have lain hidden from public view. As someone who lives and works in Sheffield, it is a great honour to lead the team uncovering its remains, so we can learn more about its tumultuous history and allow it to once again take centre stage in the city,” added Tuck.

Throughout April and May 2024, the Sheffield community is invited to experience and discover the site’s archaeology firsthand, through open days and opportunities to participate in the excavation for a day. Attendance is FREE with booking required. For more information and to book, visit

Header Image Credit : Wessex Archaeology

Sources : Wessex Archaeology

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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