Dearne Valley pupils to discover remains of historic castle

9 November 2017

Pupils in the Dearne Valley are being given the opportunity to excavate the remains of a historic castle situated outside their school.

The archaeological excavation is part of a project organised by the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (DVLP) with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). It will investigate the original structure and use of Castle Hills in Mexborough - a scheduled monument and the site of a historic, 11th century motte and bailey castle.

Over 50 Year 4 and 5 pupils from New Pastures Primary School in Mexborough will take part in the excavation of test pits at Castle Hills site on Wednesday 15 November.

The work is part of a wider archaeology project led by consultants at Sheffield-based ArcHeritage with the DVLP. The site is one of ten to be surveyed across the Dearne Valley to help understand the heritage of the area.

As well as working with the local school, the project aims to develop the skills and engage members of the community in archaeological investigation, including working with members of Mexborough and District Heritage Society. Workshops with volunteers will take place at the Castle Hills site from 16 to 18 November.

Sally Gawthorpe, community officer at the DVLP, said: “We are delighted to be able to deliver this archeology project in the Dearne Valley. We believe it’s really important for both pupils local to the site and individuals in the community to understand more about its history. They will play an integral part in this project and will have input at every stage.

“Since we began surveying sites in the Dearne Valley we have investigated Iron Age farms and medieval monasteries and we’re excited to find out what might be revealed at Castle Hills once the excavation gets underway.”

Pam Belnavis, headteacher at New Pastures Primary School, said: “This is a fantastic hands-on opportunity for our students to possibly uncover remains from a castle which sits just outside our classroom window. The children are really excited about what they might find and can’t wait to get digging!”

Laura Stafford, project officer at ArcHeritage, said: “This monument is an excellent example of its type, although it remains relatively unknown and under-appreciated, even amongst the residents of Mexborough. It is hoped that through this project, local residents will engage with the monument so that the site can be widely enjoyed and understood by the local community.”

Castle Hills was donated to the people of Mexborough as a recreation ground in 1908.

The DVLP has worked closely with Doncaster Council and Historic England in planning these activities in order to better understand the historic significance of the site and manage it in the future.

The work at Castle Hills is being carried out as part of the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (DVLP), a five-year programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund focusing on the historic buildings and landscapes of the Dearne Valley.

Notes to editor

Image caption:

  1. Sally Gawthorpe, community officer at the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership

Media contact: Charlotte Goldthorpe at Capital B Media on 01226 766900 or at

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership

The lead partner of the The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership is Barnsley Council with a partnership that includes Rotherham and Doncaster Councils, the RSPB, Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Garganey Trust and Groundwork South Yorkshire. The DVLP is part of Barnsley Museums & Heritage Services and is based at Elsecar Heritage Centre.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery @HLFYandH

ArcHeritage based in Sheffield is a trading arm of the York Archaeological Trust and was established to extend the scope and reach of the Trust’s services. It offers a complete range of archaeological and heritage services to a wide range of clients, including local authorities, government agencies, commercial developers, individuals and community groups.

Castle Hills is the site of a late 11th-century motte and bailey castle, and is a scheduled monument. Motte and bailey castles were introduced in Yorkshire only after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Castle Hills is likely to have been built by one of the sub-tenants of Roger de Busli, the Norman lord of Tickhill, who controlled Mexborough in the late 11th century.

This press release was prepared by Capital B Media, a public relations and media training agency based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. For more information, please visit

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