Contractors are preparing to move on site to carry out crucial conservation work to help preserve one of Swansea’s most historic landmarks.
Specialists will be removing invasive vegetation and fixing areas of unstable masonry at Oystermouth Castle in preparation for it reopening to the public this summer.
The Norman built Grade 1 scheduled ancient monument is owned by Swansea Council and run day to day by the volunteer group, Friends of Oystermouth Castle and supported by a Council Castle Development Co-ordinator.
The Friends group successfully applied for part funding from the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund to help pay for the work and to prepare social distancing measures for when visitors can tour the castle again.
The oldest part of the current castle is the South Keep which was built in 1107 but much of the work will be centred around Alina’s chapel which was first made accessible to the public following a multi-million pound investment 10 years ago.
The current project aims to slow down the decay of 14th Century paintings located inside of the chapel by carefully removing and replacing the layer of turf, known as softcapping, on top of the chapel walls.
The softcapping acts as a thermal blanket protecting the walls from excess water ingress and frost that can damage the mortar.
Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration & Tourism said: “Although the castle is closed at the moment, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to protect and conserve this important landmark.
“The Friends group, who do a great job bringing this medieval monument to life for visitors, successfully secured funding from the Welsh Government and I’m pleased the council has also contributed in order to maximise the work that is vital to protecting the castle.”
Erika Kluge, Castle Development Co-ordinator, said: “With managing all Grade 1 monuments of such significance, there is always the difficult balance of conservation need yet operating it as a viable visitor attraction at the same time.
“This grant has been crucial in such a strange and unpredictable climate because as well as helping us conclude this second phase of work to the chapel, it has also allowed us to make repairs that have increased security to the castle whilst it has been empty for all these months. It has also enabled us to provide social distancing measures to slowly prepare our volunteers for re-opening when we are able.”
Paul Griffin, Chair of the Friends of Oystermouth Castle, said “This conservation project is vital to the continuing preservation of this historic monument. We look forward to welcoming visitors back as soon as the work has been concluded.”
It is planned to reopen the castle to the public once the £155,000 project is completed and in line with any Welsh Government restrictions at that time.
Opening will be publicised beforehand but in the meantime visitors can follow the progress of the restoration work at swansea.gov.uk/oystermouthcastleconservation
(Lead image & video: Swansea Council)
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