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Norwich Castle's Keep - as you've never seen it before

PUBLISHED: 11:37 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:11 21 May 2019

A tour of the castle museum's keep before it closes for a complete redesign
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019

A tour of the castle museum's keep before it closes for a complete redesign Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Archant 2019

It's Norwich Castle's Keep as you've never seen it before - and probably never will again.

A tour of the castle museum's keep before it closes for a complete redesign
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019A tour of the castle museum's keep before it closes for a complete redesign Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

In preparation for work on the £13.5m Gateway to Medieval England project, which will see the keep transformed to reflect how it looked in Norman times, the displays and artefacts have been removed.

Since January, staff at the museum have been removing, packing and storing more than 1,300 objects from the 900-year-old Keep, including that favourite of generations of schoolchildren, Snap the dragon.

And the move has presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people to see the Keep in all its structural glory.

That reveals original architectural features which might previously have been overlooked by visitors.

A tour of the castle museum's keep before it closes for a complete redesign
Dr Tim Pestell 
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019A tour of the castle museum's keep before it closes for a complete redesign Dr Tim Pestell Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Building work to transform the keep back to its original lay-out, when it was a Norman royal palace, will begin in October.

But between May half term and September, people will be able to see what museum bosses have dubbed the 'clear-view Keep'.

Dr Tim Pestell, senior curator of archaeology at Norwich Castle, said: "This is an incredible opportunity to see the building in all its glory.

"It is a fantastic space and the chance to see it like this for a limited time only."

A tour of the castle museum's keep before it closes for a complete redesign
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019A tour of the castle museum's keep before it closes for a complete redesign Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

New tours of the Keep have been developed to help visitors understand the distinctive features of the building and new interpretative panels have been put in place to give visitors information.

They include details of how medieval designers faced a battle to prevent one of the walls from collapsing and how the medieval builders used vaulting techniques unique to Norwich Castle.

The National Lottery-funded Gateway to Medieval England project will see the original floor level for the 2,000 square foot Great Hall restored.

And a new medieval gallery is being created in association with the British Museum.

A tour of the castle museum's keep before it closes for a complete redesign
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019A tour of the castle museum's keep before it closes for a complete redesign Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

When the building work starts, people will not be able to get into the Keep, while the main entrance to the castle will also be closed.

But people will still be able to get into the rest of the galleries at the castle, at a reduced admission price, via a temporary entrance.

The revamped Keep is due to open in 2020. Work will also see new, fully accessible lifts installed, including one to take people to a new platform on the battlements.

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