Prehistoric activity in the Conisbrough area is indicated by finds of flints and an arrowhead to the north of the town, while a Roman coin hoard and finds of single coins denote Romano-British activity in the area. Archaeological evidence of early post-Roman activity has been identified at Wellgate, with 6th-century settlement indicated by a pond, a fenceline and tracks. A hoard of 6th-century Byzantine coins was discovered at Conisbrough in 1921.
Place-name evidence indicates high status activity in the area during the early medieval period. Conisbrough derives its name from the Old Norse ‘konungr’, meaning ‘the king’s stronghold’ and the Old English ‘burh’, meaning a fortified settlement (Smith 1961, 126). The name was first recorded in 1002-1004, but the Old Norse element may have replaced the earlier Old English term ‘cyning’, which also means ‘king’ (Smith 1961).
Conisbrough was part of a system of fortified sites along the Dearne and Don valleys during the early medieval period and is likely to have been the centre of a large administrative unit prior to the Norman Conquest (Hey 1979). Early medieval deposits associated with the burh have been found in the vicinity of Conisbrough Castle and elements of an early medieval church, including an Anglo-Saxon cross fragment, are retained within the fabric of St. Peter’s Church. A cist burial that was excavated at St. Peter’s Church may also be early medieval in date.
Conisbrough was held by Harold Godwineson, king of England, in 1066 but was subsequently granted to William de Warenne, the son-in-law of William the Conqueror. Conisbrough Castle was constructed c.1180 by Hameline Plantagenet, the half-brother of Henry II. Numerous medieval remains survive at Conisbrough, from an extensive deer park to a 12th-century coped tomb chest. Two mills were recorded at Conisbrough in the 11th century and a ferry operated on the river, just below the castle, in the later medieval and early post-medieval periods. Elements of several medieval and early post-medieval buildings survive within the fabric of later structures, including timber-framed farm buildings and high status dwellings.
A noted sickle works was operating on the river by 1600 but the wider Conisbrough area remained a largely agricultural area until the early 20th century. Expansion had occurred during the mid-19th century, although the village was not redeveloped extensively due to the creation of a planned new village at Denaby Main to house miners and their families. The South Yorkshire Railway and the Midland railway opened a joint station at Conisbrough in 1849 and the area also included the Ashfield Fire Clay Works, a brick, tile and pipe works, a pottery and the Denaby Powder Works, which produced explosives, during this period.
Locations in the Dearne
All locations that are related to this content are as follows: