Collaborating with the City to regenerate Sheffield Castlegate

Sheffield Castle may have been demolished in the 1600s, but its influence can still be found across the city. From inspiring the name 'Castlegate' to exciting archaeological activity, Sheffield Castle remains an important aspect of Sheffield's history and heritage.

Drawing showing Castlegate landmarks

The University of Sheffield is closely involved with local stakeholder plans to repurpose the area and reintroduce the heritage of Castlegate to the public. Recently, Professor John Moreland from the University of Sheffield has analysed past archaeological studies of the area to uncover the rich history and importance within the Sheffield city landscape. For over 700 years, the Castlegate area was the centre for urban market trade in Sheffield, consisting of a town hall, railway station, and the little known Sheffield Castle. The closure of Castle Market in 2013 marked a change in the city centre landscape, with a once-popular area becoming disused and abandoned. 

In Castlegate, we are seeing the fruits of years of collaboratively working with city partners to bring the research resources of the University to bear in very practical ways, through animating, discovering and transforming Sheffield’s oldest quarter whilst learning and having fun. Having investment in this part of the city will hopefully inspire others to bring economic vibrancy back to this area.

 Professor Vanessa Toulmin

Director of City and Culture at the University of Sheffield


Uncovering Sheffield Castle

The Castlegate area owes its name to the former Sheffield Castle, a largely forgotten but significant part of the heritage of the area. The University of Sheffield is working to bring the Castle's significance back to the city centre, while regenerating the Castlegate space for public benefit, including funding archaeological studies and regeneration projects and analysing previous studies.

The most recent excavation led by Wessex Archaeology in 2018, uncovered evidence of the first Sheffield Castle forming part of a traditional Norman settlement, dating back to the 12th century. Further studies have discovered more details on Sheffield Castle's longstanding history, from a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War to demolition in 1646.

Findings from all previous excavations have been collated and analysed by Professor John Moreland (University of Sheffield Dept of Archaeology), Professor Dawn Hadley (the University of York, Dept of Archaeology) and Ashley Tuck and Mili Rajic (Wessex Archaeology)  in the 2020 book 'Sheffield Castle: Archaeology, Archives, Regeneration, 1927-2018'. The book outlines the impact of Sheffield Castle and its significance in shaping the development and landscape of modern-day Sheffield through local, national, and international affairs. The book launched during Festival of the Mind 2020, accompanied by the premiere of the short film 'Castlegate Sheffield: Excavating the past, building the future'.

Sheffield is seen by most people as the Steel City, but what our research makes clear is that the city has a deep history that dates right back to the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, since the castle was largely destroyed following the English Civil War and multiple developments have been built on its site ever since this rich medieval history of the city has largely been forgotten or ignored.

With the Castlegate area of the city being earmarked for redevelopment, we now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to use heritage as a resource to redefine Sheffield’s identity not just as a place with a rich industrial heritage but also as a city with a deep history reaching back into the Middle Ages.

Professor John Moreland

Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield

Working with our colleagues in archaeology, community groups, local businesses and Sheffield City Council, we are developing an ambitious vision for the future of the site. This design work, and the participatory research that underpins it, is playing a vital part in a collective community-led campaign to propose the development of a new creative neighbourhood, accessible to all, that celebrates the rich heritage of the site while creating a viable sustainable future.

Carolyn Butterworth

School of Architecture, University of Sheffield and Director of Live Works

children attending an interactive exhibition on Sheffield Castle

Repurposing and reviving Castlegate 

Since 2014, the University of Sheffield has been active in supporting the regeneration of Castlegate. Efforts have focused on re-establishing heritage and repurpose urban areas in the heart of the city. Live Works, a city-centre based initiative led by the University of Sheffield's School of Architecture, fosters collaborations between researchers, students, community partners, and the local community to support active local participation in the city development. Live Works launched the book 'Imagine Castlegate' as part of the 2015 City Debate, showcasing work undertaken by the University of Sheffield in the Castlegate area. Live Works continues to work with local stakeholders to develop a co-produced vision for the Castle site:

  • The School of Architecture and Department of Landscape Architecture have collaborated on the 'Engaged University Project', bringing academics and city decision-makers together to work on aspirational and innovative projects.
  • The Castlegate Festival, established in 2015, gave local artists the use of previously unoccupied spaces to highlight the area's history through artistic activities. 
  • The Sheffield Bazaar, a 2014 Festival of the Mind collaboration, hosted installations, exhibitions, and sideshows in the closed Grade II listed Castle House, attracting over 11,000 visitors during 10 days.
  • Experience Castlegate, an AR installation for 2018 Festival of the Mind showcasing a new 3D digital model of Sheffield Castle in the context of contemporary Castlegate, alongside visions for the future

Regeneration efforts have produced a significant impact highlighting the cultural and historical significance of the area, linking local creators and artists to city centre spaces, and attracting members of the public back to the area.

people gathering in Castlegate

Follow the links below to find out more about Sheffield Castle and the Castlegate area.

Imagining Castlegate

A 2015 publication highlighting University involvement in Castlegate regeneration

Imagining Castlegate

Sheffield Castle

A digital book by Prof John Moreland collating and analysing previous excavations of Sheffield Castle

Download the e-book

Castlegate Sheffield - Excavating the past, building the future

Presented as part of Festival of the Mind 2020, this film accompanies the Sheffield Castle e-book presenting a new perspective on Castlegate area.

View the film

Our 12th Century History

This webpage uncovers more of Sheffield Castle's long history and importance in Sheffield City heritage.

Read more about the history of Sheffield Castle

Sheffield Castle: the story so far

This case study presents more information on Sheffield Castle's historical importance and University archaeological activity. 

Read the case study

Sheffield’s long-lost castle reveals the city’s deep roots in the Middle Ages

Press release accompanying the release of the Sheffield Castlegate e-book.

Read the press release

Festival of the Mind 2020 projections

Digital projections displayed on iconic Sheffield buildings as part of Festival of the Mind 2020.

View the projection images

Friends of Sheffield Castle

A volunteer group who aim to protect and promote the archaeological site of Sheffield Castle and have published a future vision for the site, developed with students from the School of Architecture, in their 'Blueprint for the Site of Sheffield Castle.

Friends of Sheffield Castle