Controversial Work at Historic Thetford Site

A number of residents in Thetford, Norfolk, have queried the installation of £65,000 steps on the site of the town’s former castle. The castle mound dates from the eleventh century and the introduction of stairs has been backed by both Thetford Town Council and Historic England. Following the completion of the work a petition was started and received 511 signatures.

Thetford Town Council had sought local consultation in late 2016 when they issued a press statement saying:

“Whilst public access to the site has been encouraged the management plan identified the erosion scars as a major threat to the monument. The management plan for the site strongly recommends that a set of steps should be built to cover the erosion scars and stop further deterioration. The town council has been awarded a grant of £65,000 to build the steps. The town council would like to build stairs into the ditch area and then a straight run of stairs to the top of the mound. It is proposed that the stairs will be made metal and green composite materials. It is hoped that the composite materials will blend into the mound and not be attractive to metal thieves. The proposals for a platform around the top have been abandoned because of excessive cost”.

The council defended the steps after local controversy and added:

“The site is also for its plant species and further works are planned to help remove the scrub from the motte to encourage chalk species including pyramidal orchids back to the site”.

Historic England said in a statement:

“While we accept the steps will change the visual appeal of the site, they also bring significant benefits in terms of increased public access and better management”.