Scarborough Town Wall

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are no visible remains

NameScarborough Town Wall
Alternative NamesAwburgh; Newburgh
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishScarborough

No remains of C13 masonry town wall. First murage grant in 1225 and intermittent grants given in C13 and C14. May have been extended to add Newburgh to Awburgh defences. Leland noted town was walled a little with stone, but mostly with ditches and walls of earth.

The earliest settlement, or 'aldborough,' lay beneath the castle near the harbour; it was walled by the time of King John. The wall ran from a moat on the north, by Auborough and Cross Street, to the sea (Now called King Street); from this point the southern wall went east, along Merchants' Row, now Eastborough, to the castle dykes. The castle and its 'scaur' 300 ft. high protected the town on the east. The moat was still traceable on the north in 1798, when the foundations of the walls were still to be seen. The town had spread westward by the time of Henry III, and this extension, the new borough, was protected by a ditch, (called New Dyke in 1637) which started from the coast at Huntriss Row, went north by St. Thomas's Hospital, north-east to Auborough Gate, and east to the foot of the castle hill. In 1225 the men of Scarborough obtained a grant of forty oaks from the king's wood and the right to levy tolls on ships for three years towards the defences of the town. The Dominicans, who were building just outside Auborough wall on the north-west, wanting stone for their church and running water for their workshops, sought leave in 1283–4 to pull down the wall as cumbersome and useless. The burgesses opposed this, as earlier in the century the wall, though old and partly destroyed, had checked the advance against the castle of the enemies of King John and Henry III, who were further thwarted by the Newborough ditch. The burgesses urged the building of a wall behind the ditch, and it was probably for this wall that murage for seven years was obtained in 1308 and throughout the 14th century

According to tradition the northern part was walled by Richard III and the whole was in good preservation in the 16th century. There were gates at Newborough, the entrance from York, a gate 'meatley good,' according to Leland, and at Auborough, 'very base,' where the remains of a small keep were found in 1806. Both gates were renewed in 1642. The Auborough gate disappeared early, the Newborough gates were in 1843 replaced by a pseudo-Gothic bar, itself removed in 1890. (VCH)

April 8. 1304. St. Ford. 32 Edward I. Licence, after inquisition ad quod damnum made by the bailiffs of Scardeburgh, for John de Pycheford to repair, at his own expense, 200 feet of the old wail of that town, which is fallen down and broken, and which adjoins a plot of his there, and to build houses on that part of the wall and hold them when so built to him and his heirs for ever. By p.s. (CPR p. 219-20)

Gatehouse Comments

This licence suggests some of the old walls (Awburgh) were now longer required after construction of new defences which would also date the new defences to before 1304.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTA041888
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  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 129
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 24, 89, 237, 268
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 87
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 534
  • Ryder, P.F., 1982 (paperback edn 1992), The Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire (Ash Grove Book) p. 141
  • Barley, M.W., 1975, 'Town Defences in England and Wales after 1066' in Barley (ed) The plans and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 57-71 plan p. 66 download/view online
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London) p. 109-10
  • Rutter, J.G., 1966, (Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society research reports 6) p. 40-1
  • Andrews, M., 1947, The Story of Old Scarborough p. 34-7
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1923, VCH Yorkshire: North Riding Vol. 2 p. 538-9 online transcription
  • Baker, J., 1882, History of Scarborough (London)
  • Hinderwell, T., 1832 (3edn), History and Antiquities of Scarborough (York)
  • Hinderwell, T., 1798, History and Antiquities of Scarborough (York)


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 547
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 59-60 online copy


  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Pearson, T. and Hall, C., 1989, 'Recent Work of the Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society' CBA Forum (newsletter for CBA Yorkshire) p. 12-13 (brief excavation report and plan)
  • Binns, J., 1983, 'The Oldest Map of Scarborough' Transactions of the Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 25 p. 13-18
  • Pearson, T., 1980, 'Scarborough's First Town Wall' Transactions of the Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 23
  • Farmer, P.G., 1973, 'Excavations on the 'Balmoral' Site in Scarborough during 1973: Interim Report' Transactions of the Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 16 p. 27-36, 44
  • Wilson, D.M. and Hurst, D.G. (eds), 1968, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 12 p. 187 download copy
  • Rutter, J.G. (ed), 1967, Transactions of the Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 10 p. 37

Primary Sources

  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1833, Rotuli litterarum clausarum in turri Londinensi asservati (Record Commission) Vol. 2 p. 19b. (grant of timber) online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891-1916, Calendar of Patent Rolls (1216-1225) p. 508-9; (1266-1272) p. 254; (1307-1313) p. 76; (1317-1321) p. 318; (1338-1340) p. 321; (1343-1345) p. 257; (1381-1385) p. 570 (murage grants); (1301-1307) p. 219-20 (licence to build houses on the old wall) online copies via University of Iowa LibrariesBrown, Wm (ed), 1898, Yorkshire Inquisitions Vol. 2 (Yorks Record Series 23) p. 9-11 [online copy >]
  • Hamilton, H.C. (ed), 1856, Historia Rerum Anglicarum Willelmi Parvi, de Newburgh p. 92 online copy
  • Map or 'plat' of Scarborough c. 1538 MS British Library Cotton Augustus I. ii. 1 see British Library for general information
  • - < >Also see the Gatehouse murage pages for full details of murage [grants >], [petitions > ] and [other such >]. < >