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New housing development set to provide Thorne history lesson

A new £9m housing development is set to provide a unique insight into the history of Thorne, as Keepmoat and Housing & Care 21 begin construction work on waste land next to the medieval castle mound on Church Street, in partnership with Doncaster Council.

As part of the build process, archaeologists are returning to learn more about the history of the area and the importance of the castle in its growth, and now local people can get in on the action too.

The roots of the growth of Thorne date back to medieval times. Archaeological investigations previously took place in 2008, with many local residents taking part.

It is hoped that the new dig will add to what is known about the history of Thorne and provide answers to some of the many questions that remain: was there a castle bailey where the local Lord or his officials lived? Can we find anything of it? How did people use the land around the castle as Thorne thrived and grew?

An open day is being held at the site from 11am until 4pm on Saturday 11th March, where visitors will be able to take a tour of the site to see what the archaeologists have found so far during their investigations. This will be followed by an evening talk on what the archaeologists have learned, at 5.30pm in the Church of St Nicholas’ Church Hall.

Community Archaeologist Dr Jon Kenny said: “The archaeologists from ArcHeritage, along with Keepmoat and Housing & Care 21, are really excited about the site next to the castle moat and we want to show everyone what we discover. The castle mound is visible to anyone who walks by, but it will be really exciting to explore how the town grew from a medieval market town to thrive in Tudor, Georgian and Victorian times.

“We want to involve local people wherever possible, and we are also keen to let young people know about the history of Thorne, so we will be offering free workshops at schools with our community archaeologist.”

Kris Peach, Director of Extra Care for Housing & Care 21, said: “This is a really exciting project for us, due to the historic importance of the site and the way we are working with the archaeologists to help them explore its past.

“They will have a great opportunity to find out more about Peel Hill Motte and surrounding area, and to share what they find with the local community. We will be really interested to see what their work turns up.

“Longer term, the development will provide further quality and affordable homes for older people in the area, securing the future of the site while protecting the historic landmark. We will be keen to find ways to celebrate the history of the site when the scheme is up and running.”

The new development on the site, which was officially launched last week by Mayor Ros Jones, will be an Extra Care scheme, meaning residents will live independently in their own apartments, with care and support services based on site. Schemes also feature a range of communal spaces including cafes, restaurants and hair salons, which are also open to the local community.

Housing & Care 21 is keen to incorporate the findings of the archaeologists into the final design of the communal spaces, through displays and artwork.

To find out more about the archaeology project or to arrange a free school workshop with a community archaeologist, please contact