THE gates of Hay Castle are to be removed for the first time in almost 400 years for restoration work to take place.

The large wooden gates are currently fenced off and hidden behind scaffolding, but will be removed on September 14 as part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project to restore and open the castle to the public.

They are are believed to date as far back as the 12th century when the castle was founded by the Normans.

The Hay Castle Trust, the organisation that is leading the conservation project, plan to reopen the castle in 2020 as a centre for arts and education.

Nancy Lavin Albert, from Hay Castle Trust, said: “We were determined from the start to restore and reinstate these wonderful gates, which have guarded Hay Castle’s walls for the best part of a thousand years.

"Once they have been repaired they will be reinstated as part of an important new thoroughfare between the castle and the town. I just love the idea that the gates which were once firmly shut to keep people out will, in the future, be opened wide to welcome visitors into the castle.”

The gatehouse stonework will be repaired, and the ground excavated to its original medieval level, while the gates and hinges will be conserved at John Nethercott & Co in Presteigne.

The gates are believed to be among the oldest in the country still hanging in their original gateway, although their precise age is unknown.

Carbon dating of timber samples places their production between the 14th and 17th centuries as the castle was developed over the years.

Mysteriously, a piece of wood removed from a slot next to the gate dates back to the 10th century, almost 200 years before the gatehouse was constructed.