Sources for Conisbrough Castle

This page lists the main primary and secondary sources of information for the study of Conisbrough Castle.

An engraving of Conisbrough Castle from the south by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, dated 1725
An engraving of Conisbrough Castle from the south by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, dated 1725. At this date there was a long, straight flight of steps leading to the keep entrance

Primary Sources

British Library, London

The Cartulary of Lewes Priory, the most important documentary source for the Warennes and their estates in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, is in the British Library (MS Cotton Vespasian F.XV). The relevant documents have been studied and published in:

  • CT Clay, ‘The Yorkshire portion of the Lewes chartulary’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 31(1933) 290ff
  • CT Clay and W Farrer, Early Yorkshire Charters, vol 8: The Honour of Warenne, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series (Leeds, 1949)
  • LF Salzman, The Cartulary of the Priory of St Pancras of Lewes, Sussex Record Society, vol 38 (1932), vol 40 (1934), and supplementary vol (1943).

The National Archives, Kew

  • E 36/159 [condition survey of Conisbrough, 1538]
  • E178/2581 [Conisbrough: a survey of the timber in the park, 16 Elizabeth I, c 1575–6]
  • SC 12/17/63 [survey of Conisbrough and Tickhill, 1537–8; published in Brown, W, ‘View of the castles of Tickhill and Conisbro’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 9 (1886), 221–2 [accessed 23 Aug 2014]
  • WORK 14/1412 [Conisbrough Castle, Yorkshire, works 1934–55]
  • WORK 14/1413 [Conisbrough Castle, Yorkshire, guardianship 1936–54].

Doncaster Archives, Doncaster

Doncaster Archives holds various medieval and later records, including:

  • DD YAR/C: Manorial records, Conisbrough. This unusually extensive collection of manorial records, comprising 226 files covering the date range 1265–1956, was deposited by Mr Dunwell, agent for Lady Diana Miller, lady of the manor of Conisbrough as daughter of the Earl and Countess of Yarborough. The National Archives catalogue for this record describes the Conisbrough Court Rolls as ‘a very fine series of records, with a complete run of registers from 1717 to 1935, many of which are indexed for personal names’. Before that individual court rolls survive for many years especially from the 14th to the mid-16th centuries. The earliest is that for 1265. Good series of rolls exist for 1310–29, 1399–1403, 1452–1574, 1600–11, 1620–24, 1632–60 and 1700–16. There is also a good series of suit rolls covering most of the late 17th and 18th centuries. Much of this probably does not relate to the castle, but the medieval rolls have the potential to shed light on life in the town and manor, and on the castle establishment.
  • DD/YAR/C/3/1 [a rent-roll for the manor of Conisbrough in 1441 lists all the free and customary tenants, the lands they held, and for what rental].

Later documents mostly relate to the administration of property in the manor of Conisbrough. The following may have information relating to the castle and its setting:

  • DD/YAR/P/1 [copy of the enclosure map of the commons and wastes of Conisbrough and Clifton, 1857, made in 1905]
  • DD/YAR/S/1 [‘a particular of the castle and lordship of Conisbrough … the freehold of Edward Coke, late of Longford, Co. Derby, January 1733’; includes particulars of the tenants and rentals in the manor of Conisbrough]
  • DD/YAR/E/4/1–3 [enclosure records, Conisbrough, 1870].

Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Leeds

Visual Sources

Accurate plans and drawings of the keep were published in:

  • GT Clark, ‘Conisbrough Castle’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 8 (1883), 124–57 [accessed 23 Aug 2014]

Other key visual sources include:

  • S Buck, ‘South view of Conisbrough Castle, near Doncaster’, 1725
  • Engraving of the castle, 1801, published in Gentleman’s Magazine (1802)
  • Engraving of Conisbrough by J C Bentley after a drawing by H Melville of 'King Richard, Ivanhoe, Gurth and Wamba arriving at the Castle of Coningsburgh', 1837
  • Estate map, 1901.

Doncaster Museum has a collection of engravings, watercolours and early photographs of the castle. 

Historic England Archive

Items in the Historic England Archive at Swindon relating to Conisbrough Castle include:

  • an album of photographs of the castle dating from 1951 to 1976 (AL0623)
  • property file containing 211 drawings relating to the maintenance, repair, conservation and interpretation of Conisbrough Castle, 1930–95 (PF/CON)
  • file of Yorkshire Archaeological Journal proofs, mostly excavation plans published in the journal from the mid- to late 20th century (YAJ01).

More details of these and many other items can be found in the online catalogue. Some material is not yet listed in the online catalogue, including a large collection of aerial photography; for a full search, please contact the search team.

Copies of images and documents can be ordered through the website or by contacting the archive. For details of current charges for these services see the archive price list.

A fragment of painted wall plaster found at Conisbrough Castle
A fragment of painted wall plaster found at Conisbrough Castle

Published Secondary Sources

Souces marked with an asterisk represent key works in which our understanding was significantly altered, summaries showing the state of knowledge and theories at particular dates, or recent works detailing the latest discoveries.

Brent, C, Pre-Georgian Lewes c 890–1714: The Emergence of a County Town (Lewes, 2004)
Brindle, S, ‘The keep at Conisbrough Castle, Yorkshire’, Château Gaillard, 25 (2012), 61–73
Brindle, S, and Sadreai, A, Conisbrough Castle (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2015) [buy the guidebook]
Brown, W, ‘View of the castles of Tickhill and Conisbro’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 9 (1886), 221–2 [the survey by Henry VIII’s commissioners in 1537–8; accessed 23 Aug 2014]
Butler, L, Sandal Castle, Wakefield (Wakefield, 1991)
Châtelain, A, Chateaux forts et féodalité en Île de France de XIème au XIIIème siècle (Nonette, 1983)
*Clark, GT, ‘Conisbrough Castle’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 8 (1883), 124–57 [accessed 23 Aug 2014]
*Clark, GT, Mediaeval Military Architecture in England, vol 1 (London, 1884), 431–52 [accessed 23 Aug 2014]
Colvin, H (ed), The History of the King’s Works: The Middle Ages, vols 1 and 2 (London, 1963)
Ellis, AS, ‘Conisbrough Castle’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 9 (1886), 399–400 [accessed 23 Aug 2014]
Fairbank, R, ‘The last Earl of Warenne and Surrey, and the distribution of his possessions’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 19 (1906–7), 193–264 [accessed 23 Aug 2014]
Goodall, JAA, The English Castle (London and New Haven, 2011)
Hamilton Thompson, A, Military Architecture in England during the Middle Ages (London, 1912), 166–72 [accessed 23 Aug 2014]
Harriss, GL, ‘Richard [Richard of Conisbrough], earl of Cambridge (1385–1415)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) [subscription required; accessed 23 Aug 2014]
Hey, D, Medieval South Yorkshire (Ashbourne, 2003)
Hoyle, WF, ‘The descent of the manor of Conisbrough’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 9 (1886), 216–220 [accessed 23 Aug 2014]
*Hunter, J, South Yorkshire: The History and Topography of the Deanery of Doncaster in the Diocese and County of York, vol 1 (1828), 97–107
Impey, E, Castle Acre Castle and Priory (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2010)
*Johnson, JS, ‘Excavations at Conisbrough Castle, 1973–1977’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 52 (1980), 59–88
Johnson, JS, Conisbrough Castle (English Heritage guidebook, London, 1989)
Johnson, PA, Duke Richard of York, 1411–1460 (Oxford, 1988)
Keeffe, T (2004), ‘Warenne, Hamelin de, earl of Surrey [Earl Warenne] (d. 1202)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) [subscription required; accessed 23 Aug 2014]
Leland, J, The Itinerary of John Leland in or about the Years 1535–43, 5 vols, ed L Toulmin-Smith (London, 1964) [accessed 23 Aug 2014]
Mesqui, J, Chateaux et enceintes de la France médiévale, vol 1: Les origines de la défense (Paris, 1991)
Milward, A, ‘On the Norman keep towers of Coningsburgh and Richmond’, Archaeological Journal, 5 (1848), 41–56 [accessed 23 Oct 2014]
Pugh, TB, Henry V and the Southampton Plot of 1415, Southampton Records Series 30 (Southampton, 1988)
Ryder, PF, Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire, South Yorkshire County Council Archaeology Monograph 2 (South Yorkshire County Council, 1982)
*Sands, H and Braun, H, ‘Conisbrough and Mortemer’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 32 (1934–6), 147–59
Taylor, A, Round the Yorkshire Castles (Doncaster, 1963)
*Thompson, MW, ‘A single-aisled hall at Conisbrough Castle, Yorkshire’, Medieval Archaeology, 12 (1968), 153 [accessed 23 Aug 2014]
*Thompson, MW, ‘Account of excavations at Conisbrough Castle’ (account of the Royal Archaeological Institute’s summer excursion for 1968), Archaeological Journal, 125 (1968), 327–8
Thompson, MW, ‘Further work at Conisbrough Castle, Yorkshire’, Medieval Archaeology, 13 (1969), 215–16 [accessed 23 Aug 2014]
Tuck, A, ‘Edmund [Edmund of Langley], first duke of York (1341–1402)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) [subscription required; accessed 23 Aug 2014]
Watson, J, Memoirs of the Ancient Earls of Warren and Surrey, and Their Descendants to the Present Time (Warrington, 1782) [accessed 23 Aug 2014]
Watts, J, ‘Richard of York, third duke of York (1411–1460)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) [subscription required; accessed 23 Aug 2014]

Unpublished Reports

Clark, J and Toop, N, ‘Conisbrough Castle, South Yorkshire: conservation and development strategy’, Field Archaeology Services for English Heritage (2009)
Crowfoot, E, ‘Examination of textile from Conisbrough Castle’AML Reports (Old Series) 2785 (n.d.)
GSB Prospection Ltd, ‘Conisbrough Castle, Conisbrough, South Yorkshire: geophysical survey report 2009/05’, commissioned by English Heritage (2009)
Harrison, S, ‘Conisbrough Castle: an initial brief review of the architectural problems and the evidence of the architectural fragments’, Ryedale Archaeology Services for English Heritage (2010)
Johnson, PG and Ambrey, C, ‘Conisbrough Castle, South Yorkshire: analytical earthwork survey report’, Northern Archaeological Associates for English Heritage (2009)

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