I live just over half-an-hour’s drive from one of England’s most spectacularly located castles: Beeston. The outer and inner ruined stone walls, notably its inner gatehouse, make this is one of the most striking medieval castles to visit.
Moreover, the woodland walks and caves are worth seeing.
The views from the castle are splendid too. One can watch the canal boats and also the railway trains go past.
On my most recent visit, I got to see it in sun and rain, and explore puddles as well as distant views.
If you haven’t been to Beeston, it is well worth a visit, despite the £3 car parking charge which is rather off-putting. The payment machine has long been broken, meaning one is expected to pay at the visitor centre and then go all the way back to the car to display that you’ve paid. Honestly, I didn’t bother, I paid but didn’t display since I had 5 kids in tow and it was too much hassle.
What I want to discuss here, however, is the new initiative by English Heritage to bring a dimension of prehistory to the heritage interpretation of the site. For while the visitor centre’s exhibition charts the long story of Beeston from Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age occupation to the medieval and early modern use of the site, there remains a demonstrable absence of clear signs or explanation of the site’s prehistoric occupation. So I’m very excited that, in a post-medieval quarry so as not to disturb the ground surface of the older archaeological dimensions of the site, a roundhouse is being built this summer.
We didn’t see volunteers at work, but we got to view the site, but we looked on from the perimeter past the lintelled gate. I also like the health and safety signs so depict it here too (last sentence should read ‘able to learn’).
The temporary sign explaining the activity was clearly written (bar one omitted word).
I was fascinated to see all the bails of thatch ready to form the roof.