Close to the South Yorkshire town of Doncaster, Conisbrough is the finest example of a complete Norman keep in Britain, though not typical in design. Originally built by William de Warrene, a Norman knight around 1070, on land given to him by William the Conqueror and previously owned by King Harold, the castle would have been of timber construction. The present stone keep was built around 1180 whilst the cutain walls remained timber at that time.
The castle became world famous when featured in Sir Walter Scott’s early 19th century novel “Ivanhoe”. Local legend tells of Scott coming to the area to purchase a carriage and being so inspired by the castle he wrote Ivanhoe, a book which portrays Robin Hood as a merry cheerful fellow, the character which has stayed with that legend ever since.
The castle site sits atop a natural limestone crag, in those days between the great forests of Sherwood and Barnsdale. Clay was used to level the top and some time before 1537 this slipped, bringing down a large section of the Southern curtain wall. Ironically this break meant the castle was saved from “slighting” by Cromwell as it was considered indefensible.