Efforts to make the site of Sleaford’s castle ruins the crowd-pulling historical visitor attraction it may deserve have taken shape out of a meeting last week.
About 30 interested landowners, neighbours, history and archaeology experts were drawn together by Sleaford and District Civic Trust and the Town Council for a symposium in the Town Hall on Thursday.
Although only a small section of wall remains on the site off Castle Causeway, the outline of walls, a moat and earthworks have remained relatively untouched for 450 years.
Chairman of the Civic Trust, Garry Titmus led the meeting explaining the site is under appreciated and underused except for dog walkers, vandals and flytippers and has only one restricted pedestrian entrance, being relatively poorly signed and hidden away, having lost previous historical interpretation boards a decade ago. This is despite the site having links to King John, King Stephen and King Henry VIII.
Armed with ideas and aspirations a joint project group is to be formed headed by the Civic Trust and owners, Sleaford Town Council, which will later incorporate the community under the banner of Friends of Sleaford Castle.
Mr Titmus said: “There is a lot of enthusiasm for this project and we have had a fascinating discussion.”
Town Council chairman Coun Grenville Jackson agreed: “It is a very exciting prospect and we just have to make sure we use the people who have the knowledge and resources and not try and plough our own furrow.”
The wide range of experts reviewed a list of 15 possibilities for the castle site, ranging from additional pedestrian access to new interpretation boards, an experience trail and volunteering opportunities to uncovering parts of the buildings with an archaeolgical dig to know what there is left to preserve.
There were learning opportunities for schools and university students and they have already had input from Carre’s Grammar School which had ideas for rebuilding the castle using virtual reality programmes and new signage.
Mr Titmus said: “A strong proposal came forward for a thorough geophysical and radar survey of the site. We looked at encouraging the natural environment for flora and fauna while enhancing the vision of the castle.”
There were ideas for more events, re-enactments and a light show. Mr Titmus warned that this would all be a long term project and a key message that came out of it was the poor signage and access to the castle. He said: “We want to enhance the history and make it more attractive to visit.”