CONISBROUGH, a parish-town, in the upper-division of Strafforth and Tickhill; 5 miles SW. of Doncaster, 7 from Rotherham, 42 from York. Pop. 1,142. The Church is a vicarage, dedicated to St. Peter, in the deanry of Doncaster, value, ~£8. 12s. 8½d. Patron, the Duke of Leeds.
The Castle here is supposed to be British (see History for photograph). The walls are of the immense thickness of 15 feet. It had neither portcullis nor machicolations, nor the Norman mode of securing loop holes. In the latter end of the Saxon period, it belonged to King Harold, and was afterwards given by the Conqueror to Earl Warren; who, it is supposed, re edified the Keep. --King's Munimenta Antiqua.
It will be difficult to compare the architecture of this edifice with others of the same period; because we cannot find many of so ancient a date. The octagonal tower of Dover Castle appears to be almost the only one of the same era. Between this, however, and Conisbrough Keep, the similarity is rather striking; and as a further evidence that the latter was erected about the period before mentioned, we have the authority of the indefatigable Mr. King, who, in his treatise on English Castles, fixes the building of it about this time of Cartismandua.
Conisbrough seems, even in its earliest history, to have been a royal residence; hence its British name, Caer Conan, and Saxon one, Koningsberg or Borough.
The situation of this Castle is on the summit of a circular or rather elliptical hill, the sides of which are covered with the most luxuriant trees, above which the ivy crowned summit of the keep, appears to the observer on the adjacent hill, like a Castle in a wood; to the southward appears the church, from which the town, an agreeable intermixture of buildings, trees and gardens, stretches in the same direction; and with the interposing valley, forms a scene on which the eye expatiates with delight; a cheering animated landscape, which bursts unexpectedly on the sight, and fills the mind with pleasurable emotions.
Within the walls too it affords many beautiful detached views, and such as the lovers of the picturesque must always admire. Its tottering fragments covered with ivy, or half hidden by spreading shrubs, when partially illuminated by a flitting light, forcibly attract the attention, and impress the mind with ideas of delight, which it was no ways prepared to except.
Near the Castle is a tumulus, said to be raised over the body of Hengist, the Saxon General, slain in battle near this place, about the year 488, by Aurelius Ambrosius, who took him prisoner, and afterwards, according to Matthew of Westminster, beheaded him.
Here was born, Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cumberland, commonly called Richard of Conisburgh, father of Richard, Duke of York, afterwards beheaded by Henry V.