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MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS AND THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF SHEFFIELD CASTLE

Professor John Moreland and Martin Gorman present the results of archaeological excavations and research at the remains of Sheffield castle in South Yorkshire, an important site in the study of Scottish history due to its status as a longterm prison of Mary Queen of Scots
Gatehouse reconstruction produced, in collaboration with HumanVR, as part of the University of Sheffield’s CastlegateVR project

Mary Queen of Scots spent a third of her life as a prisoner in Sheffield – much of it in the town’s castle. Once ‘among the largest in England’, this great fortress was demolished on the orders of parliament, in 1646, at the end of the English civil war). Subsequently ‘every trace of the building … disappeared under the utilitarian demands of a manufacturing town’.

It is generally agreed that William de Lovetot built the ‘first Sheffield castle’ in the early 12th century, and many have assumed (on the basis of no evidence) that this was a motte-andbailey castle. Towards the end of that century, the castle passed to the de Furnivals who, in the second barons’ war, supported the king, Henry III (r. 1216-72). As a result in 1266 ‘Saffield’ was burned by ‘Johane D’eyvill cum equiis et armis’. In 1270, Thomas de Furnival received a licence to ‘build a stone castle and fortify and crenellate it’. In the late 14th century the castle passed to the earls of Shrewsbury. George Talbot, the 6th earl (1528- 90), is said to have been ‘the nearest thing in that age to a modern tycoon’ – and it was probably his great wealth, along with the comparative ‘isolation’ of his castle, which made Sheffield an appropriate ‘home’ for the captive queen of Scots between 1570 and 1584.

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About History Scotland

The March/April issue of History Scotland is packed full of the latest research news and in-depth reads from experts in the fields of Scottish history, heritage and archaeology. Highlights include: 'The Stewart Queens of Scotland: Margaret of Denmark. New research on the life of Margaret, who reigned alongside James III of Scots Scottish coastal history: a wide-ranging overview of Scotland’s coastline over the centuries A guide to Agricola’s campaign in Scotland Curator review of the new Ancient Egypt Rediscovered gallery at National Museum of Scotland Underwater archaeology at Loch Tay New excavations at the prison of Mary Queen of Scots in Sheffield Castle Plus: Family history advice, archaeology dig reports and finds analysis, history of art series and lots more…​