A Brief History of Conisbrough Castle

I grew up in Doncaster: perhaps not the most obvious place to inspire a budding medieval historian. Yet in fact the town has a rich history, and in the wider Doncaster area there are still quite a number of medieval buildings. These include a castle at Tickhill and several wonderful churches. (My personal favourite is quirky little St Oswald’s in Kirk Sandall.) However Doncaster’s most significant medieval building is surely Conisbrough Castle, which dominates the skyline for miles around. It is probably best known for its connection with Sir Walter Scott, whose famous novel Ivanhoe was apparently inspired by the castle, although of course it does have a much longer story. Continue reading A Brief History of Conisbrough Castle

The Siege of Caerlaverock Castle

Edward I was one of England’s most formidable kings – he is respected by historians for his legal reforms as well as his wars – but he is remembered rather differently in Scotland. In the last years of his reign he waged a series of bloody campaigns, seeking to impose his rule over the Scots by force of arms. In 1298 he won a crushing victory at the Battle of Falkirk, avenging an English defeat at Stirling Bridge, although this failed to bring him the ultimate outcome he craved. Thereafter the conflict became a war of attrition, as many Scots continued with dogged opposition.

In the summer of 1300 Edward summoned an army to assemble at Carlisle. The plan was to establish English control in the south-west of Scotland – traditionally a volatile region which was then proving especially troublesome. There was a centre of Scottish resistance at Caerlaverock Castle (to the south-east of Dumfries), whose garrison enjoyed regular skirmishes with English forces. Continue reading The Siege of Caerlaverock Castle