Beeston Castle and Woodland Park
Sun breaking through the clouds over Beeston Castle

The Roundhouse at Beeston Castle

People have lived and worked at Beeston for 4,000 years. However, today all that remains of the site’s prehistoric origins are the Iron Age earthworks, later adapted by medieval castle builders.

We want to help bring Beeston’s prehistoric past to life. So this spring we start work building a new roundhouse at the site - reconnecting with the people who once lived here during the Bronze Age and Iron Age.

The project will offer an immersive learning experience for school groups, providing hands-on activities in an authentic environment. Beeston Castle will be open as usual, with the roundhouse due to be completed in October 2019. 

Three bronze-age socketed axeheads

Reconnecting with the bronze age

Beeston has been significant to local people throughout its history. The earliest evidence for human activity at the site includes flint tools dating to the Neolithic period (3500–2000 BC). Later in the Bronze Age and Iron Age, Beeston seems to have become a centre for metalworking and trading across the North West of England.

But look around the site today, and little visible evidence remains of the early hive of activity. Our new roundhouse will allow visitors to explore that early period of history, revealing how people may have lived and worked up to 3,000 years ago.

A prehistoric roundhouse at Stonehenge
Prehistoric roundhouses under construction at Stonehenge.

What is a roundhouse?

Our Bronze Age ancestors lived and worked in circular dwellings known as roundhouses. These houses consisted of walls made of wooden or stone posts - filled in with wattle-and-daub (a mixture of twigs, earth and clay), and a thatched roof. 

Archaeologists excavating at Beeston Castle in the 1970s and 1980s found post-holes dug into the bedrock - the foundations for these prehistoric huts. They also discovered Bronze Age objects such as axes and knives. Based on this archaeological evidence, we are reconstructing a prehistoric roundhouse at the site, using traditional materials and techniques.

Learn about prehistory
Children on a Discovery Visit at Beeston

Immersive education

The new roundhouse will provide an opportunity for visitors to see aspects of life in the Bronze Age first-hand. 

From watching the building come to life as it is constructed, to seeing demonstrations of prehistoric crafts and activities once the structure is completed, the roundhouse is made to be interactive - helping us to tell the story of this remarkable site.

The roundhouse will also support educational visits, giving children the chance to learn about prehistory in a realistic environment. Schools will be able to take part in craft activities inside the roundhouse, experiencing prehistoric life and expanding their learning outside the classroom.

School Visits
Roundhouse tools

Bringing History to Life

Work on the roundhouse started in early spring and will continue throughout the summer. The project is due to be completed in October 2019.

The building process is as much of an opportunity for learning and discovery as the finished roundhouse will be. We’re working with local volunteers and schools to build the roundhouse across several phrases, including daubing the walls, thatching the roof and laying the floor.

Our expert volunteers are also on hand throughout the build, talking to visitors and illuminating Beeston's Bronze Age past.

Visit Beeston Castle
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