South Yorkshire Times, August 20, 1949
Restoring a Castle
New Discoveries at Conisbrough
May Reveal Earliest Plan
Original Stone Is Being Used In Restoration
Buried for centuries beneath the grass-covered courtyard, the foundations of buildings which once formed part of Conisbrough Castle will help to throw new light upon the Castle’s original plan when they are uncovered by preservation work now in progress. As far as is known, no plan of the Castle as it originally stood, is in existence, and for this reason the foundations will be of particular interest.
New parts of the curtain wall which have been covered by rubble will also be revealed by the work.
Already, during work on the south curtain wall, a new portion some seven yards long and six feet deep, has been uncovered. As a result the original foundation of the wall is now visible.
Eventually, all the original foundations of the curtain wall will be visible, as will the foundations of the Castle Keep. The moat, at present covered by dead wood and scrub, will be excavated.
Mr Thomas W. Abbott, a craftsman in stone, who hails from Northumberland is in charge. He told the “South Yorkshire Times ” this week that foundations in the courtyard would only be uncovered when they were ready to work upon them, otherwise they may be damaged. The exact position of these foundations is not known, and their discovery depends to some extent upon Mr Abbott’s intuition.
The fact that stonework exists on both sides of the moat is already known to Mr Abbott. He believes that when excavations are finally completed it will be found that the whole of the moat is flanked by stonework.
How the Job is Done
Upon Mr Abbott rests the responsibility for deciding how the preservation and restoration work shall be carried out. At Conisbrough the work is not principally one of restoration, but essentially of preservation. Plans as to how the work shall be carried out are seldom possible, varying conditions demanding different methods of approach.
Working under Mr Abbott are three masons, an apprentice and two labourers, all of South Yorkshire. The stone they are using is exactly the same as that used by the original builders. Much of it has been buried beneath rubble in the courtyard, and is now being replaced in the wall.
Last of all, because of its tine present condition, the work of preserving the magnificent Norman keep, probably the only one of its kind in the country, will be carried out.
When completed it will be impossible to distinguish between the work of the original masons and that of their successors. And then, says Mr Abbott, South Yorkshire will have one of the finest mediaeval monuments of its kind in the country.