Ludlow Castle resident archaeologist to guide tours
One of the region’s most impressive ruins now has its own resident archaeologist – and he will be showing the public around over the next two weeks.
Leon Bracelin, well known in Ludlow for his ongoing surveys around the town, has now turned his attention to Ludlow Castle itself and across the Easter holidays will be conducting talks and tours around the towering medieval structure at the heart of the historic town.
Leon, aged 43, is a freelance archaeologist, now working towards his PhD, who has been carrying out survey projects around Ludlow for the past few years, first looking around basements and subterranean passages to see what remains of the older town and, more recently, calling for Ludlow residents to let him open test pits and conduct a green survey looking under flowerbeds. to build up a catalogue of medieval pottery for the town as part of his studies, which is ongoing.
He said: “Late last year the custodian of the castle, Sonja Belchere, got wind of what I was doing in town and invited me to come into the castle as a professional and develop the archaeological understanding of the castle.”
He said he was the first person to take on the role as resident archaeologist and the last in-depth archaeology at the castle was done in 1903 by William St John Hope, with most of the knowledge and research about it coming from documents and texts rather than a physical examination of the structure itself.
“It’s so massively misunderstood, presently people looking around don’t really know what they’re looking at. “But the archaeology is second to none, you can see all the phases of development,” he said. He said people tended to focus on the outer battlements, but the main area with its 12th century round chapel of Mary Magdalene, linked to the Knights Templar, was much older and more interesting.
He said the role was a dream come true. “I feel like I’ve been ‘given the keys to the castle’. It’s pivotal for me because as a monument it’s central to my studies – and as I take people around it’s reinforcing my own knowledge,” he said. An archaeology discovery week will be held between Saturday 8 and April 15. Leon will be leading ongoing free tours inside the castle – though the usual castle entrance fees still apply – and there will also be an archaeological treasure hunt and lectures on the archaeology of the monument.
Leon and staff at the castle will continue to give archaeological guided tours during the weekends of the tourist season to raise awareness of the monuments history.