Conisborough Castle (Doncaster) Sir Walter Scott
Conisborough Castle (Doncaster) , Conisburgh


Consiborough castle is a romantic castle and medieval fortification situated in the town of Conisborough alongside the River Don. Considered one of the most important places of Anglo-Saxon and Viking history in South Yorkshire, the name Conisborough is derived from the old English “Cyningesburh” and which means either "king's stronghold" or "king's fortified place.” The castle was created after the Norman conquest of England in 1066, and the design of the keep, which is unusually well preserved, is considered to be unique in England. Although the design was militarily weak, the castle would have been a symbol of power, wealth, and ambition. Today visitors can still explore castle, its keep, and even climb to the castle’s roof to discover impressive views of the surrounding countryside.

Gothic heritage

Directly inspired by the medieval castle at Conisborough, Ivanhoe (published in 1819) is perhaps the most popular of Sir Walter Scott’s many novels. Although Scott never visited the castle itself, which he only saw from the outside, it inspired his novel in which he describes it as a “rude yet stately building,” further stating that there are “few more beautiful or striking scenes in England.” Scott was already a renowned Scottish novelist and poet, and Ivanhoe is the first of his novels set in England, and further marks his first venture into English history. The story is set in the heart of the Norman and Saxon conflict in the 12th century, and much of the action within the novel takes place in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. Among many notable characters – including King Richard, the knight Ivanhoe, the Jewish daughter Rebecca, and even Robin Hood – is Athelstane of Consiborough. Believed to be dead, Athelstaneis taken to his castle at Conisborough but wakens during his own funeral feast; his ‘resurrection’ eventually revealing that he is not actually a ghost as he never died in the first place. 

Other Literary heritage

Conisborough Castle was included in James Moore’s book on Monastic remains and ancient castles in England and Wales (published in 1791).

Further information

As well as visiting the castle itself, you can pop into the Visitor Centre which includes object displays, a digital model, and illustrated panels.

Interesting fact

Many street names in Conisborough are derived from Scott’s novel, including Athelstane Road, Ivanhoe Road, and Scott Avenue.

For Visitors

You can find more information about visiting Conisborough Castle at the following links: