Muncaster Castle is a Grade I Listed country house with origins in the late 14th century, set in nearly two square miles of Grade II* Listed landscape gardens and parkland. The grounds include a typical suite of estate buildings, including stables, two walled kitchen gardens, gate lodges and eye-catchers, some Listed in their own right. The ruins of the bathhouse of the Roman fort at Ravenglass also lie within the estate and seem to have been incorporated into the design of the parkland. The house and much of the grounds are open to the public, constituting an important regional attraction and source of employment. In 2005, a local historical group received a substantial Local Heritage Initiative grant to carry out research into the Castle’s history. Attention has focussed on the possibility of a Roman building, such as a signal station, on the site of Muncaster Castle itself.
English Heritage’s Architectural and Archaeological Survey and Investigation Teams are working together to improve the understanding of the Castle and its landscape context, through detailed survey of the house and rapid investigation of the surrounding area. The English Heritage contribution is involving the community group in the investigation as far as possible, through regular talks and the provision of practical training. The new understanding will underpin the presentation and management of the property by the owners. Through their participation in the progress, it is hoped that the local community will also understand and value their heritage more. The holistic study, with its emphasis on community involvement, is intended to offer an example of best practice to other members of the Historic Houses Association and will form the core of a planned publication aimed at country house owners