Conisbrough Castle is an amazing little gem, tucked away in South Yorkshire between
the well known tourist centres of Doncaster and Rotherham. It's quite easy to find,
being on the A630 a few miles from junction 36 of the A1(M)
It's a real shame about the location, because if this were in The Dales or down
South, it would be a massive attraction. As it is, the castle attracts remarkably
few visitors, and I doubt if many of them ever return.
The castle features heavily in Ivanhoe as the home of Athelstane, and the local
council have tried to exploit that connection for all they're worth, but "romantic"
and "Doncaster" aren't words you expect to hear in the same sentence.
So what is there to see. Well, there's The Keep, The Keep and The Keep. That's it
really. There is a curtain wall and some grounds that would be nice for a picnic,
but the rest of the castle
takes about five minutes to look round. But who cares,
because The Keep is one of the best in England. It's round, which is unusual enough, but it's supported by six massive buttresses giving it an octagonal appearance
from a distance. The official guide leaflet describes it as "by far the finest of
its type in England" - but it would be more accurate to describe it as the only one of its type in England. It's absolutely unique, looks amazing from a distance
and is equally spectacular close up.
The castle was
built in the 12th century by the Warrenne family, big buddies of
the ruling Plantagenets, but eventually passed to the crown where it
fell into deacy
by the time of Henry VIII. That's lucky really, for if it had been in good repair
it would probably have been sleighted during the Civil War and the keep would be
just another ruin.
So what of this magnificent keep. Well the walls are 15 feet thick at ground level,
and as a defensive measure entry is at the first floor. Fortunately it was given
a roof in the 1990's, and you can now climb to the top to get an incredible view.
But the trouble is, the view's a bit grim and grimy. The pits have gone now, but
looking over council estates and a semi built-up area. The natural comparison
is with the view from the top of Richmond Castle, and it just doesn't measure up
But overall, it's absolutely unique and well worth a visit for anyone who likes
castles. And it's near Magna so could easily be combined with a day out there.