Lewes story cubes explorer bags. A staff member packing story cubes and other items into large bags.]

Lewes story cubes explorer bags. A staff member packing story cubes and other items into large bags.]


Lewes Castle is a ruined Norman Castle. You can climb to the top for stunning panoramic views across Sussex.The adjoining Barbican House is home to the Museum of Sussex Archaeology and houses local collections from the Stone Age to medieval times.



We wanted to create additional resources to supplement the audio guide, and to offer visitors a choice of formats. The aim was to improve all visitors’ experiences of the buildings and collections.




We created additional multi-sensory resources, called ‘Castle Explorer Bags’. These bags contain resources ranging from braille, to recorded stories, scent and sound activities, objects and creative activities. Volunteers have sewn bags of toys and resources to support some traditional stories.  These are available to borrow from the front desk and are handed out on our dedicated ‘Morning Explorer Days’, for families with additional needs. These sessions are open for families who may need a quiet space with limited numbers and trained volunteers are available to guide and assist them to access the activities. We also provided the content of the audio guide in hand-held, low tech formats and on listening posts

To ensure these new resources are enjoyed by our visitors, we delivered staff training, improved the site signage, enhanced the website and fostered partnerships with local groups and access forums. This has helped ensure these resources are embedded into what we offer, now and in the future.


Lewes explorer bags. An example of the items to be found inside the explorer bags: a game of “I spy at Lewes Castle”, a rock, some chain mail and a chain mail glove, a pouch containing a rusted metal object and a folder

Some items in the explorer bags


Those involved in making the resources learnt about how to create multi-sensory learning resources for families with additional needs. Families with additional needs feel welcome and can enjoy learning and playing together to discover the castle’s stories. Training has enabled staff to feel confident in welcoming BPS visitors and their families.





“I want to do it all” – Participating child excited by what he saw as he entered the room with the sensory bags laid out. “It’s good the

children can wander around, make a noise and not disturb anyone. They can come back to the activities when they want – much more

likely they will join in and try things out.”

Morning Explorer Feedback – Lewes Castle SAS


Top Tips

  • Involve front desk staff in ideas, content and training so that they have more ownership of resources and are confident in giving them out to visitors.
  • Be prepared to change things as you go along.
  • Work with a focus group to ensure your resources meet your target audiences’ needs.
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