Secrets of ancient Whittington Castle could be unlocked in new project

New technology could unlock the secrets of a Shropshire Castle.

Whittington Castle
Whittington Castle

The University of Chester and Routescene's latest LiDAR - light detection and ranging - drone has been used to give a glimpse of how heat maps and 3D mapping could help investigate Whittington Castle, near Oswestry, and how it impacted on the village and surrounding landscape.

Pupils from Whittington Primary School joined the University of Chester’s ‘Digital on Tour’ team and its mobile studio at the castle to learn about the drone and what it does, as well as being given first-hand experience of virtual reality.

It is the first stage of a project led by Stewart Ainsworth, visiting professor of landscape archaeology at the University of Chester and founder member of SharedPast, a community archaeology support group, currently working in partnership with the Whittington Castle Preservation Trust.

Schoolchildren visit the Castle

A two-year project has been conceived and the organisations will now seek funding.

Professor Ainsworth said: “Little did we know when the trust contacted us how important this archaeological project might become. There are still many unanswered questions to be resolved about the evolution of the Castle and by stimulating new research using new technology they could be answered.

"We are excited to be part of delivering the trust’s vision for the site and the community around it.

A heat map of the castle site
The map generated from the heat map

"As part of this project to investigate the heritage of Whittington we are aiming to develop online, outdoor and workshop training activities for children and adults from the community. These will include working with maps, aerial photographs, LiDAR and 3D computer modelling and hopefully some archaeological test-pits in and around the village.”

Davina Fairweather, a castle trustee said: “This concept is probably the most exciting project in the castle’s recent history. The castle is the dominant feature in our small village.

"Why it is here, what part it played, and plays, in the life of the village will be investigated by its own community and brought to life for residents and those who visit. We will also get to know the principal characters who lived, loved, fought and worked here.

"Skills will be shared to help people understand how to appreciate our rich heritage. We hope, because of our work, that heritage will become more meaningful to all ages wherever they are. The results from the work will also inform a revised interpretation of the castle’s history and there are plans for a permanent exhibition.”

The SharedPast and Preservation Trust teams are planning an open meeting on August 16 at the Church of St John the Baptist in Whittington to explore more about the work and how the whole community can be involved.

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