The next major phase in Sheffield City Council’s plans to regenerate the historic area of Castlegate gets underway this week as essential geoarchaeological work begins.
Geoarchaeological investigations will be carried out by archaeology and heritage specialists, Wessex Archaeology, as they conduct 33 borehole surveys across the site of Sheffield Castle to examine the characteristics and conditions of the site’s underlying groundworks. The findings will then be analysed to give insights into what is underground and in turn inform the council’s redevelopment proposals for the area.
It marks a significant step in propelling the council’s plans to revitalise Castlegate after securing £20m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund last year. Plans include the de-culverting of the River Sheaf, interpretation of the castle remains and the creation of attractive green public spaces; the creation of an cultural destination providing S1 Artspace and Sheffield Music Academy and Sheffield Music Hub with new state-of-the-art facilities; the preparation of land for future uses and investment; better connectivity and improved infrastructure for active travel.
Cllr Mazher Iqbal, co-chair of regeneration, transport and climate policy, said: “This is a huge step forward in our plans to transform Castlegate into a thriving and vibrant city centre hub, as it would have been hundreds of years ago when the castle still stood. Gathering this data is the key to unlocking the future of the site; it will tell us what is and isn’t possible for the development of the land so that a masterplan can be drawn up and put to the public for their thoughts in a consultation this autumn.
“It’s a really exciting time for the project and I look forward to seeing the next stage develop.”
Cllr Julie Grocutt, co-chair of regeneration, transport and climate policy committee, said: “Castlegate is a large part of Sheffield’s rich history and heritage and like our residents and stakeholders, we want to understand more about the site so that a suitable approach to future development is established.
“We want to transform Castlegate into a district of innovation, education and culture that re-energises our city centre and benefits our communities and this is another important step to helping us realise these ambitions.”
In consultation with South Yorkshire Archaeology and Historic England, each borehole’s location has been carefully planned based on a need to further investigate the site, in order to add the information to the previously conducted archaeological evaluations, including the one carried out by Wessex Archaeology in 2018, after the Castle Markets were demolished.
This phase will supplement the information gathered from earlier assessments to produce a report, a detailed deposit model and archaeological sensitivity map to feed into a constraints plan for the area. The drilling is expected to last 6 weeks.
Milica Rajic, an infrastructure director from Wessex Archaeology, said: “Wessex Archaeology are delighted to be back on the fascinating castle site, working with Sheffield City Council and partners. The exercise will help us to gather more information about key elements of the site such as where the castle moat joins the River Sheaf, allowing us to further the knowledge we have about the site and uncover more of Sheffield’s history.”
Martin Gorman, chair of the Friends of Sheffield Castle, said: “We are delighted that further investigations of the Castle site are now taking place, and I’m sure this will add value to what we already know. We hope this is the start of a wider programme of investigation of the site, to ensure that the remains of the Castle form part of a high-quality public realm and help to re-vitalise this historic part of our city.”