An archaeological excavation at the front of Carrickfergus Castle begins today which could lead to a redesign of how the historic site is accessed.
The Norman castle dating back to the 1170s has been in ‘state care’ since 1928 and is now managed by the Department for Communities (DfC).
The excavation – expected to take six weeks – will investigate the ground at the castle’s entrance, where earlier investigations revealed buried structures and artefacts.
Once complete, the information gathered will help consideration of a possible redesign of the entrance ramp.
Iain Greenway, director of DfC’s Historic Environment Division, said: “Carrickfergus Castle is one of our most-visited historic monuments. These works are to help inform how we reconnect the castle to the town, with heritage having a lead role in the social and economic prosperity of the area.
“The works will involve the careful excavation of the grassed area at the front of the castle’s medieval gatehouse, and a portion of the access ramp that was constructed to the castle nearly 30 years ago.”
Excavations at the castle’s entrance in 1950 uncovered remains of a structure interpreted then as the drawbridge pit protecting access to the gatehouse. The new investigations will determine how much has survived under the ground, and how it can be protected in the course of new works.
It is intended that public access to the site will be maintained throughout the works.