Visitors to the 1,000 Years of Traditional Crafts event in Lincoln this weekend are being offered an exclusive extra this year - a behind-the-scenes tour of a £22m restoration scheme at Lincoln Castle.
Writing the next chapter in the 1,000-year story of one of England’s finest Norman castles, the Lincoln Castle Revealed project aims to transform the imposing stone building into a world-class heritage visitor attraction for 2015.
With just under a year to go before the new-look castle is finally revealed, visitors to the 1,000 Years of Traditional Crafts event (31 May and 1 June) are being invited to go behind the scenes of this huge conservation project.
High on a hill and standing opposite one of Europe’s finest gothic cathedrals, Lincoln Castle - built in 1068 on the site of a Roman fortress - is regarded as one of the country’s best examples of a Norman castle.
It has been at the centre of the fight for the English throne, a prison and home to Lincoln Cathedral’s 1215 Magna Carta, one of only four such documents remaining.
And in 2015 - the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta - Lincoln Castle’s four-year restoration will be complete, including a new underground state-of-the-art Magna Carta Vault.
There will also be new castle walks - including for the first time ever a complete circular wall walk - improved access to the male and female Victorian prisons, an “in the round” cinema offering a fresh perspective on Magna Carta history, new shop and café.
While the new-look castle will fully re-open in April 2015, the grounds and parts of the building remain open and 2014 will still see a packed programme of events, including the return of the 1,000 Years of Traditional Crafts.
Over the weekend, the grounds will be filled with craftspeople demonstrating more than 50 traditional crafts and skills, from blacksmithing, pole lathe and willow weaving to stonemasonry, jewellery-making and silver smithing.
Once again visitors will be able to stroll around the special demonstration areas and also have a go themselves by trying their hands at one of the short courses taking place in the castle’s innovative, grass-roofed Heritage Skills Centre, part of the Lincoln Castle Revealed refurbishment.
But this year there will also be a chance to go behind the scenes of the continuing restoration to see first hand the traditional skills and techniques used in such an extensive and delicate project. Hard-hat tours of the wall works, prison and Magna Carta Vault will take place throughout the weekend.
Now in its fourth year, 1,000 Years of Traditional Crafts has become a firm favourite on the Lincoln events calendar.
Among displays will be medieval stained glass work and intricate stonemasonry - both of which are kept very much alive in Lincoln as part of ongoing maintenance at Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral.
Also on show will be woodcarving, willow weaving and lacemaking, as well as a host of other skills and crafts.
For younger visitors, a special children’s marquee will have plenty to keep them entertained during the weekend, as well as show off their own artistic side, and there will be a Select Lincolnshire food fair in Castle Square.
Admission to the event, open 10am to 6pm on both days, is £6.50 for adults, £5.20 for concessions, £3.90 for children, and £16.90 for a family (two adults and up to three children).
For full details and to book tickets, visit the www.visitlincolnshire.com/1000years