The history and archaeology of Nottingham Castle – speakers from the We Dig the Castle team at Trent & Peak Archaeology

We Dig the Castle

We Dig the Castle is Nottingham Castle’s flagship training excavation, delivered as a partnership between Trent & Peak Archaeology, Nottingham City Council, and Historic England. In our annual excavation of the outer bailey of the medieval castle trainees are tutored in hands-on archaeological skills while uncovering new information about the history and archaeology of the castle site. 2017 is the third year of this successful dig – the first known archaeological investigation of this part of Castle Rock.

The team

The We Dig the Castle team includes Matt Hurford, Trent & Peak Archaeology’s Community Projects Manager, and Laura Binns, the organisation’s Community Archaeologist.

Matt has been an archaeologist for over 20 years, and is a specialist in buildings. In particular, he has worked closely with Southwell Community Archaeology Group in their excavations at the lost burgage manor and their study of the town’s vernacular buildings. Matt is managing We Dig the Castle 2017.


Laura, also a trained archaeologist, has a Masters in Community Archaeology and is a co-leader of the Nottingham Young Archaeologists’ Club. She also works with schools. Laura has been involved in the excavations at Southwell as well as many other community excavations and associated projects. These include Toton Unearthed, Dig for History! (St Ann’s Allotments), the Lenton Priory Project, and the Big Dig at Derby (part of the Our City Our River flood alleviation scheme). Laura has been the lead tutor at We Dig the Castle since 2015.

Both are experienced, confident, and friendly speakers and happy to stay behind afterwards for a chat with guests.

Trent & Peak Archaeology is a registered charity based in Chilwell, Nottingham. We provide heritage and archaeological services across the Midlands and beyond, run community projects, and support and work with voluntary groups and community archaeology societies in a whole range of ways.

We offer a variety of talks on the history and of the Nottingham Castle site, tailored towards your interests and prior knowledge. We travel through Nottinghamshire (and adjacent areas of neighbouring counties) and can provide all equipment if required.

Talks available year round.

The history of the Nottingham Castle site

Hear about the turbulent, and often violent, history of Castle Rock. Discover the motte and bailey built on the orders of William Conqueror on this easily defended rocky outcrop at the heart of the country.  Learn how Nottingham became one of the most important royal castles outside of London, and the scene of events that changed the course of national history. These include the seizure of the castle by Prince John, forcing King Richard the Lionheart to lay siege to it. Queen Isabella and her lover Roger, Earl Mortimer, were also seized here, allowing their regime to be overthrown. And it was from Nottingham Castle, the seat of his government, that King Richard III set out to the Battle of Bosworth. Two centuries later, in 1642, King Charles I raised his standard here, catapulting Britain into civil war. Soon succumbing to Parliamentarian forces, the Castle would remain subject to repeated, but unsuccessful, Royalist attack throughout the Civil War.  It was subsequently destroyed, on Parliament’s orders, to prevent any enemy force from ever holding the site again. A replacement building, the Ducal Palace, built for the Royalist Duke of Newcastle, would be set alight by rioters during the Reform Bill riots of 1830.

Recent excavations at Nottingham Castle

Hear about the commercial and community excavations carried out at the Nottingham Castle site by Trent & Peak Archaeology. Learn about the artefacts and archaeological remains uncovered, and discover how these have enhanced, and in some places challenged, our current understanding of the site and its history.

Includes news of the spring 2017 gatehouse bridge excavations and the We Dig the Castle training excavation in the outer bailey.

Will also include finds from our We Dig the Castle excavations (2015-current), which will be available for attendees to handle.
We Dig the Castle: Nottingham Castle’s training excavation

We Dig the Castle is Nottingham Castle’s flagship training excavation. Started in 2015, this annual excavation of the outer bailey is a partnership between Historic England, Nottingham City Council and Trent & Peak Archaeology.

Hear about the excavations, the trainees who have taken part, and the artefacts and archaeological remains uncovered in 2015, 2016 and (for post-August 2017 talks) 2017. Learn what it means (and how archaeologists worked out the meaning and put the pieces together). Discover how this has added to our understanding of the outer bailey of the medieval castle and its history both before and after the demolition of Nottingham Castle in 1652.

We’ll bring handling finds from the We Dig the Castle excavations (2015-current), which will be available for attendees to handle.

Get in touch

For more information please get in touch with us at or on  0115 8967400 / 07432694174 (asking for Alison)


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