South Yorkshire Times, January 25.
Excavation is Next Stage of Castle Renovation.
Extensive excavations in the ground of Conisbrough Castle, which will begin soon as part of the Ministry of Works renovation programme, may reveal a good many `finds´ of archaeological value.
It is just 15 years since reconstruction work began on the Castle, which fell into disuse midway through the 16th century.
Curtain walls and buttresses have been made safe by replacing badly worn stone and filling joints with specially prepared grout or cement, and now workmen have reached the final stages of work on the walls of the key, which is reputed to be one of the best preserved of its period in the country.
Custodian of the Castle, Mr Reginald Ames, who came to Conisbrough from Roche Abbey in 1948, told the “South Yorkshire Times” on Wednesday that the next step would probably be the excavation of the grounds, starting within the walls of the Bailey.
The original stone floor and foundation to this inner courtyard at present lie under 5 feet of dirt and rubble, which has built up over the years.. This is where many of the discoveries may be made, for during minor excavations close to the inner walls some time ago, several coins and well preserved pieces of pottery were found.
Removal of the rubble may also resolve the time old puzzle of an escape tunnel which is reputed to run beneath the Bailey. It is claimed that during the 1926 General Strike local unemployed discovered the tunnel and made their way some distance along its length.
Mr Ames explained, “I shouldn’t think the excavation process will take as long to complete as a first aid, which was started 15 years ago. Only a “skeleton” staff have been working on that, but there might be as many as 20 or 30 students and archaeologists working on the excavation.
Already one Nottingham archaeological society has volunteered its assistance when the 150 feet deep well, which lies in the base of the keep, is dug out and cleared of rubble.
Outside the curtain walls, too, work will be carried out to restore the most protective mound around the Castle, smoothing out breaches and removing blockages.
“The restoration is planned to put the Castle back in its original form as far as exterior appearance is concerned,” said Mr Ames, “that is why trees and bushes in the grounds have been removed. They would not have been there originally, for defensive reasons.”
In time Conisbrough Castle may reclaim much more of its former glory, especially if plans to rebuild floors and the roof within the keep are put into operation.
The tie may also be near when floodlighting is installed, but at the moment there is no electricity supplied to the Castle.