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A Medieval Drawbridge Pit and the Stories it Tells Us, Excavations at Pontefract Castle, 2019-2020Open Data

Nat Jackson, Chris Casswell and Manda Forster

Cite this as: Jackson, N., Casswell, C. and Forster, M. 2023 A Medieval Drawbridge Pit and the Stories it Tells Us, Excavations at Pontefract Castle, 2019–2020, Internet Archaeology 61.


Bone parchment-pricker/stylus from Pontefract Castle
Bone parchment-pricker/stylus from Pontefract Castle ©DigVentures

DigVentures was commissioned by Wakefield Metropolitan District Council (WMDC) to undertake a programme of archaeological investigations as part of the Gatehouse Project, a community-focused archaeological research project based at Pontefract Castle, West Yorkshire. The social impact of the archaeological investigations, including project outcomes for heritage, for people and for the community, have been analysed and published in an earlier article. This article focuses on the archaeological evidence recovered during the excavations, and the conclusions drawn about the construction and chronology of the gatehouse at this part of the site.

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  • Keywords: archaeology, history, Pontefract Castle, Civil War, excavations, public engagement, gatehouse, drawbridge, mason's marks, faunal remains
  • Accepted: 10 March 2023. Published: 18 October 2023
  • Funding: This article was funded by Historic England.
  • Associated archive: DigVentures (2023) Gatehouse Project, Pontefract Castle: Community Archaeology Project [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]
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Nat JacksonORCID logo

Chris CasswellORCID logo
Reclaim Archaeology (formerly DigVentures)

Corresponding author: Manda ForsterORCID logo

Full text

Figure 1: Site location ©DigVentures

Figure 2: Painting of Pontefract Castle in the early 17th century, by Alexander Keirincx ©The Hepworth

Figure 3: Engraving of Pontefract Castle by George Vertue, commissioned by the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1732 and published in Volume 1 (plate 1.42) of the Vetusta Monumenta. This image is reproduced in the digital edition of the Vetusta Monumenta, accessed in 2023. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Figure 4: Post-excavation plan ©DigVentures

Figure 5: Annotated 3D model of the excavated trench ©DigVentures

Figure 6: Remote sensing results ©DigVentures and Aerial Cam

Figure 7: Reinterpretation of Pontefract castle ©DigVentures

Figure 8: Projected elements of the Great Tower ©DigVentures

Gallery 1: Excavating the site

Gallery 1a: Indie, Maggie and Nat remove the Victorian landscaping over the gatehouse

Gallery 1b: Nat, Ben and Jodie looking at their pretty section

Gallery 1c: Volunteers clean the eastern gatehouse tower

Gallery 1d: DigCamp excavating Victorian landscaping near the drum tower

Gallery 1e: Participants draw inspiration from the excavation to create sketches of the castle

Gallery 1f: David and Chris using GPS to record section points in the drawbridge pit

Gallery 2: Finds

Gallery 2a: Double ended axe head, SF34 / Cat no. 14 (1097)

Gallery 2b: Iron staple, SF33 / Cat no. 17 (1079)

Gallery 2c: Copper alloy axle housing, SF32 / Cat no. 53 (1079)

Gallery 2d: Bone parchment-pricker/stylus, SF21 / Cat no. 12 (1076)

Gallery 2e: Stone cannon balls, A. SF30 / Cat no. 33 (1074); B. SF29 / Cat no. 32 (1074)

Gallery 2f: A Cast Iron shot, SF19 / Cat no. 34. B. Lead shot with impact damage. C. Other lead shot

Gallery 3: The mason's marks

Gallery 3a: Examples of mason's marks

Gallery 3b: External gatehouse wall elevation, showing mason's marks

Gallery 3c: West drawbridge pit wall elevation, showing mason's marks

Gallery 3d: East drawbridge pit wall elevation, showing mason's marks

Gallery 3e: South drawbridge pit wall elevation, showing mason's marks

Gallery 3f: Casing wall and north drawbridge elevations, showing mason's marks

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