Medieval fort 'ruined' by staircase built by council to preserve historic site

Harry Yorke
Aerial view of the Castle Hill chalk mound in Thetford, Norfolk  - www.alamy.com

Picturesque views of an 11th century motte-and-bailey castle in Norfolk have been ruined by the construction of an “overly modern” fiberglass staircase, built to preserve the historic site, locals say.

The ruins of Thetford Castle, a Norman hillfort destroyed in 1173 under the orders of Henry II, have remained a popular tourist attraction on the outskirts of the market town for centuries.

But now the 80 ft mound has been turned into“eyesore” following the decision by the local council to build a fleet of steps to prevent erosion caused by visitors climbing to its peak.

The £65,000 project has faced stern opposition from residents, who claim it has created a “huge scar” on an otherwise “beautiful” landscape.

New stairs on Castle hill in Thetford that have upset some locals Credit: SWNS

Matthew Spencer, a retail workers who lives closeby, said: "It couldn't be worse to be honest. It's an eyesore. I think steps could be a good idea for access but how they've done it is terrible.

"The material looks horrible. They should have used something more natural. I think they've ruined how it looks. It's ugly and overly modern - just not a good look."

Others were equally outspoken, with Steve Burkey, another resident, claiming that the new staircase amounted to “archaeological sacrilege”.

“This is a very bad idea and should not have been implemented at all,” he added. “What next? Flatten Stonehenge? One thousand years of Thetford history defaced by a galvanised staircase!”

Thetford mound, a medieval motte and bailey castle

A petition has also been set up on the website Change.org entitled "Better looking steps for Castle Hill in Thetford" which has so far received nearly 400 signatures.

However, a Thetford Town Council spokesman defended the installation of the staircase, adding that wooden, more natural-looking materials would have required more foundations and “costly maintenance and replacement.”

A spokesman for Historic England said: "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."

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