Archaeology

A spectacular Medieval Castle once stood on this very spot. Archaeological digs and investigations have helped us understand what Nottingham Castle used to look like…

1

Outer Bailey Gatehouse

In Medieval times, Nottingham Castle was one of the most strategically important castles in England. This gatehouse is an important survivor from that time.

2

Outer Bailey

Nottingham Castle included a large ‘Outer Bailey’ or castle compound, like a small village of houses and barns with places to graze animals or grow crops.

3

Middle Bailey Curtain Wall

Here we can see evidence of the strong stone walls that surrounded the Medieval castle from the late 12th century, known as ‘curtain’ walls. The curtain walls that skirt the site today are also medieval and surround the Outer Bailey.

4

Middle Bailey bridge

This bridge was the fortified entrance to the Middle Bailey, controlling who was able to pass closer into the castle.

5

Castle Ditch

Here we can see evidence of the ditch which once surrounded the castle walls.

6

Middle Bailey & Great Kitchen

The Great Hall, Great Chapel and Great Kitchen, constable and chaplain’s residences were located in the Middle Bailey.

7

State Apartments

This is the site of the State Apartments

8

Great Hall

Feasts, weddings, receptions for visiting nobles and possibly also the holding of Parliament or councils of war, could all have been held in the Great Hall.

9

Upper Bailey

Nottingham Castle’s ‘Upper Bailey’ was on the highest point of the castle rock, home to the most important castle buildings.

10

Mortimer’s Hole

This is the entrance to what is known today as Mortimer’s Hole, a cave connecting the Castle with Brewhouse Yard down below.

11

Upper Bailey Gate

A gateway guarded the entrance to the Upper Bailey, the most impregnable part of the castle.

12

Inner Ditch

This is the remains of the inner ditch, part of the defensive systems of the Medieval castle.

13

Richard’s Tower

The castle was so strategically important it had to be slighted. Evidence for this has been found in excavations of Richard’s Tower.

14

North East Tower

Here we can see the possible remains of the oubliette (deep, dark prison) in the North East Tower.

Nottingham Castle is a Scheduled Monument, containing archaeological remains of national importance. In order to investigate the impact of proposals during the redevelopment of the site, a number of archaeological works took place from 2016 onwards.

Two small trenches and a test pit were excavated in the Outer Bailey Gatehouse bridge in order to better understand its construction and to see its full width. In addition to masonry of medieval date, there was evidence of the bridge having been repaired in the late 17th century. At that time, earlier stonework from the demolished castle, including a window jamb, was used in the repair.

18th century drawings and a map dating to 1744 show a bridge/carriageway connecting the Outer Bailey with the Middle Bailey. It is likely the bridge was built in the late 17th or early 18th century. A test pit and trench aimed to locate the bridge and determine how well it survived. Masonry representing one side of the bridge was found, with further remains likely to survive beneath a footpath. These remains will be preserved during landscaping works for the development.

Two test pits were excavated to investigate portions of the Outer Bailey. On the northern side a possible medieval surface was encountered. Further to the south, evidence of 19th and 20th century landscaping overlaid garden soils of likely 17th and 18th century. Had deeper excavation been possible then earlier remains would have been found.

Seven small trenches and test pits were excavated in the Service Courtyard. The trenches revealed the northern edge of the Inner Ditch of the medieval castle (the other side of the ditch being beneath the Ducal Palace). Additionally some stonework, of possible medieval date, was found built into the ditch. Heavily disturbed remains of a cobbled surface and two paved surfaces were also found, overlying the ditch, and are believed to date to the late 18th or 19th centuries.

A small amount of excavation was undertaken in the area of the Castle Ditch to determine what impact there would be from the installation of adventure play equipment. Only very late 19th and early 20th century deposits were found, with significant landscaping having taken place in this area, burying the edge of the ditch. The base of the ditch is believed to be at a depth of almost 6m below the lower path.

 

What else might we find?

Further excavations are planned for the Outer Bailey, which could provide possible evidence of the demolition of the medieval castle in 1651. More work is also planned for the Service Courtyard prior to construction, which we hope will reveal more of the inner ditch and help us determine when this ditch fell out of use.

We’ll keep you posted on any archaeological developments as they arise!

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