Conisbrough Castle: Between the Enchantment of Reality and the Beauty of Legend
By Ashraf Alzomor
“Be ready," Mrs. Julia said, "we'll pick you up from your home at 10:10 in the morning." On the appointed time, we headed to the Meeting House, where the first leg of our journey would begin.
Mrs. Julia drove us in her car. It was me and another friend from Albania. During the drive, I asked Mrs. Julia, "What's the name of the place we're visiting today?" She replied, "It's Conisbrough Castle, one of the most important historical landmarks in the South Yorkshire city."
Afterward, we engaged in a conversation about the weather conditions in Britain, Yemen, and Albania. I also shared my first experience of living here in Britain during the winter season and snowfall. Mrs. Julia added, "The winter and snowfall now don't compare to anything with the winter and snowfall of my childhood. It was much heavier." She continued, saying, "It's beautiful and more enjoyable for children, but it can be bothersome for working individuals.”
We arrived at the castle, and the weather was clear and refreshing, invigorating our bodies and filling us with joy and delight. Memories quickly rushed back, taking me years back, reminding me of the beautiful atmosphere of my hometown, Ibb, Yemen, which bears a resemblance to this place. The tape of memories rewinds, reminding me of my childhood days, of Ashraf, who was nine or ten years old, and the ambitions and dreams he used to envision, striving to achieve them.
I stood by the roadside, contemplating and gazing at the castle, which stood tall and resilient despite some minor collapses that had affected its walls. It was adorned with greenery and surrounded by breathtaking nature from every angle.
To the eyes of the visitor, the beauty of the scene and the exquisite craftsmanship are evident.
Standing beside me was Mr. Paul. I asked him, "How old is this castle?" He replied, saying that it is estimated to be over 900 years old. It was astonishing to me, as the towering presence of this castle for all these years serves as a living example of strength and resilience. It instils in you the virtues of patience, determination, and perseverance to achieve what is desired.
Mrs. Julia asked everyone to gather around and began outlining the plan for the day, including the amount of time we had to explore inside the castle, the lunch schedule, and the departure time.
We started our tour inside the castle, accompanied by Mr. John, a history enthusiast. Mr. John began talking about the history of this castle, its significance, and how it was constructed.
Curious, I interrupted and asked Mr. John, "Has the castle undergone any changes?" He replied, "No significant changes have occurred, just some minor repairs. It's the same castle estimated to be over 900 years old."
The beautiful architectural style of this castle is one of the things worthy of praise, showcasing the greatness of those men who built it with primitive and simple means, defying all circumstances in every form. Every detail of the castle, whether from the inside or outside, carries a memory and meaning.
You can smell and touch in its small details a spirit from the past, suggesting to you a sense of strength and resilience that continues to the present. This includes the type of rocks it was built from, its towering height, thick walls, and the surrounding river that encircles it, collecting rainwater from the roofs and walls. Also, the designs of the rooms and bathrooms, estimated to be 17 bathrooms, including the queen's private bathroom. The visitor hears echoes of some speeches and messages coming from the distant past inside the castle.
In addition to the windows and balconies, and its beautiful views, and the gentle breeze that enters through them, when looking out from them, you are greeted with a stunning panorama and the beauty of the creator.
We finished exploring inside the castle and ascended to the rooftop, where the enchantment of the view overwhelmed me. It was like a masterpiece painted by a skilled artist. The sight stretched towards the north, revealing the city of Doncaster in the distance. Just in front of the castle, there stood an old train station and viaduct, and both Mr. John and Mr. Paul explained to us its history, construction methods, the bricks used to build it, and also the coal that powered the trains. This display showcased the beauty and grandeur of this remarkable achievement.
And Mr. John continued to explain to us the harshness of living in the past and the scarcity of income sources, leading to a shift towards industry and development. He mentioned the manufacturing of the first train in Newcastle and the subsequent industrial revolution, as well as the focus on science and education. All of this happened long after the collapse of the Roman Empire and their withdrawal from Britain.
There is a truth that I firmly believe in, which is that achievements do not come through individual efforts and can only be realized in the presence of security and safety.
I and a group of friends were enjoying a conversation with John until we forgot about the lunch appointment. We headed downstairs to the public square where the rest of the friends had gathered for lunch. After finishing our meal, it was time to return, and everyone started preparing to leave.
On the other side, Mrs. Julia directed us to go upstairs to the buses that would take us.
It is certain that beauty does not have a fixed agreed-upon form or a specific structure. Instead, every individual has their own taste in determining the dimensions of beauty. That's what they say. However, the beauty that Conisbrough Castle possesses confirms that there is a common denominator where the real senses converge. All the friends who were on this visit were convinced of the beauty and magnificence of this historical landmark.
We visited Conisbrough Castle on Saturday 20 May. We were a group of 40, from Albania to Yemen, from Honduras to Iran. We travelled by car and minibus, and it was good that people ‘dispersed’ to Conisbrough were able to join the group more easily.
Thanks to English Heritage for facilitating the visit.