350-year-old relics unearthed in castle dig

One of the large cannon balls found at the site.
One of the large cannon balls found at the site.

New discoveries dating back to the civil war period have been unearthed at Pontefract Castle.

Archaeologists found five cannon balls in the Keep of the monument over the last two weeks, while undertaking excavation work as part of the £3.5m Key to the North castle restoration

A dig co-ordinator with one of the cannon balls.

A dig co-ordinator with one of the cannon balls.

The artefacts, believed to originate from the mid-1600s around the time of the English Civil War, could give more clues about the castle’s history.

Each cannon ball was a different size, suggesting the castle was fired at multiple times with various guns.

Coun Les Shaw, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport said: “The Key to the North project is not only helping to preserve the castle’s wonderful history but revealing new treasures from it’s past. The recent finds have been very exciting.

“The cannon balls are believed to be around 350 years old and thought to have been fired from the direction of the Market Place in Pontefract.”

The cannon balls are believed to be around 350 years old and thought to have been fired from the direction of the Market Place in Pontefract

Coun Les Shaw

The cannon balls will be taken away to be examined and recorded by Wessex Archaeology.

After conservation, they will become part of the council’s collection and it is hoped they can go on display at the castle for the public to see.

Alison Wollerton of the Pontefract Heritage Group said: “During the civil war, which began in 1642, the castle was an important garrison in the north of England.

“It was besieged three times, being held by royalists, parliamentarians then royalists before finally being taken by the parliamentarians.

“Pontefract was the last castle to hold out through the bloody conflict.”

A new visitor centre will be created at the castle as part of the Key to the North project, which is funded by Wakefield Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England. People will be able to learn more about the site’s history.