York Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameYork Castle
Alternative NamesCliffords Tower; Turris de Euerwich'; Eboraci
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityYork
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishYork

York Castle and Clifford's Tower which are situated in the heart of York, above the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss, now the Foss Navigation. The monument comprises several elements within a single area. These include the eleventh century motte and bailey castle, the thirteenth century tower keep castle, a Romano-British cemetery associated with the extramural settlement of the legionary fortress, part of Castle Yard Anglian cemetery, a length of the Roman road that ran north-west to south-east past the south-west gate of the fortress, the remains of part of the Roman and Anglo-Scandinavian river frontages along the Foss, and the water defences of the medieval castle. Nationally important remains extend outside the boundary of the scheduling and, indeed, survive buried in areas throughout York. In the immediate vicinity of the castle, partial excavation has revealed evidence of Roman wharves along the Foss and it is believed that further remains of the fort-vicus, such as taverns, shops and houses, underlie the car-park attached to Clifford's Tower, in addition to Anglian burials indicative of post-Roman activity along the line of the Roman road. A large area of the second bailey to the north-east of the 11th century castle also lies outside the scheduling. The boundary of the scheduling has been drawn to identify the core area of the castle. The eleventh century motte and bailey castle, built in 1086 when William the Conqueror came north to consolidate his power over the country, was of earth and timber construction and the original motte underlies the thirteenth century mound of Clifford's Tower. The main bailey lay to the south-east and extended down to the line of the River Foss. The remains of such buildings as stables, barracks and workshops will survive throughout

A second bailey, a large part of which extends beyond the area of the scheduling, is now known to have existed to the north east of the motte and to include the remains of the medieval Jewish cemetery and that of the thirteenth century Franciscan friary. The original timber keep was the scene of the massacre of the York Jews in 1190. In c.1089, the Foss was dammed to create a moat around the keep and bailey. Although infilled, the line of the moat survives beneath the surfaces of the carpark, footpaths and access roads around the castle. Stone defences were added round the bailey by Henry III between 1245 and 1262 when the keep was also rebuilt in stone. The stone keep, known as Clifford's Tower, is quatrefoil in plan and originally comprised a ground floor with two storeys above and a forebuilding containing a chapel. The tower became ruinous in the sixteenth century and the present forebuilding is a seventeenth century reconstruction. Along with two towers and a length of wall to the south-east, the keep is all that remains standing of the medieval castle, though buried features, including those of stone buildings constructed by Henry III, are believed to survive in the open areas of the bailey. The castle was slighted during the Civil War and gutted in 1684. Between 1825 and 1915, it became part of York prison. Most of the prison buildings have since been cleared, but the former debtors' prison and female prison remain, along with the eighteenth century Assize Court. The prison now houses the Castle Museum and all are Grade I Listed. Clifford's Tower and the castle walls are also Grade I Listed and have been in State care since 1916. (Scheduling Report)

Cliffords Tower - Castle keep. 1245-72; partly dismantled 1596-97; forebuilding largely rebuilt 1642-43; gutted by explosion in 1684. Restorations of 1902, 1915 and 1936. For King Henry III. MATERIALS: rubble stone faced with magnesian limestone ashlar; roof lost: forebuilding rebuilt in pinkish stone, with hipped roof of tiles. Quatrefoil on plan with rectangular projecting forebuilding. EXTERIOR: 2-storey tower, originally embattled, with battered base, 3 bartizans, and full-height buttressed forebuilding to south. Forebuilding has hollow-chamfered, elliptical arched doorway of 2 orders: to right, a length of original hoodmould survives. Building largely lit by slits or chamfered rectangular lights: in right return one original lancet survives. Above doorway, a halved panel is carved in low relief with Royal Arms of Charles II above the arms of Henry Clifford, 8th Earl of Cumberland. Two corbelled bartizans, lit by slits, and similar one opposite forebuilding a garderobe tower, lit by chamfered rectangular light. On each side of forebuilding, slits light staircases within tower walls. The lower stage of each tower lobe has two arrow slits with enlarged heads. In upper stage, lobes flanking forehouse have chamfered arched openings, one pointed, one round-headed, blocked later to form arrow slits. Elsewhere, openings are chamfered lights with shouldered heads. Remains of embrasures and arrow slits in merlons survive from original embattled parapet and walkway. A water spout with a grotesque face projects on the west. INTERIOR: forebuilding has spiral staircase in wall to left, entered through chamfered, shoulder-arched doorway. Inner doorway to tower is pointed and grooved for portcullis. On first floor, in former chapel, arcades of 4 pointed moulded arches remain on 2 adjacent walls; arches are enriched with dogtooth moulding, nailhead capitals to decayed shafts survive, some moulded waterhold bases remain: altered doorway with chamfered lintel in similar wider arch: one original lancet window survives: aumbry in rebated surround. Walls on each side of tower arch contain spiral staircases, entered through chamfered, shoulder-arched doorways. Similar doorways give access to garderobe tower opposite forebuilding, and on upper floor of intermediate bartizans to further spiral staircases to parapet walkway. In all parts, arrow slits and shouldered lights are set in embrasures beneath round or pointed arches of voussoirs, some rebuilt in brick. Two lobes contain hollow-chamfered segment-arched fireplaces with hoods and flues intact. Stone-lined well beneath iron grille. (City of York HER)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE604515
Latitude53.9558486938477
Longitude-1.08000004291534
Eastings460470
Northings451580
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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 13, 15-19, 46-7, 187, 266, 295, 383
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 167 (sieges 1068-9)
  • Dean Gareth, 2008, Medieval York (The History Press)
  • Wilson, B. and Mee, F., 2005, The city walls and castles of York: the pictorial evidence (York: York Archaeological Trust - The archaeology of York supplementary series; 1/3)
  • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) passim
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 114-8
  • Ingham, Bernard, 2001, Bernard Ingham's Yorkshire Castles (Dalesman) p. 44-7
  • Richard Hall, 1996, English Heritage book of York (London: English Heritage) p. 15, 21, 40, 43, 48, 58-9, 73, 91
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 282-5
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and David Neave, 1995, Buildings of England: Yorkshire: York and the East Riding (London) p. 190-191
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 138, 184, 358
  • McNeill, Tom, 1992, English Heritage book of castles (London: English Heritage) p. 128
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 237-9
  • Drage, C., 1987, 'Urban castles' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 117-32 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 528-9
  • Ryder, P.F., 1982 (paperback edn 1992), The Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire (Ash Grove Book) p. 87-107
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 209-10
  • Harvey, J., 1975, York (London: Batsford)
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 351-2
  • RCHME, 1972, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York Vol. 2: The Defences (London, HMSO) p. 59-86, 176-9
  • Garlick, Tom, 1972, Yorkshire Castles (Dalesman) p. 26-7
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 889-894
  • Tillott, P.M. (ed), 1961, VCH Yorkshire: City of York p. 521-8 online transcription
  • Toy, Sidney, 1953, The Castles of Great Britain (Heinemann) p. 125-7
  • Toy, Sidney, 1939, Castles: A short History of Fortifications from 1600 BC to AD 1600 (London) p. 132-5
  • Illingworth, J.L., 1938 (republished 1970), Yorkshire's Ruined Castles (Wakefield) p. 116-22
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 8
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 242-8 online copy
  • Armitage and Montgomerie, 1912, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 43-4
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Cooper, T.P., 1911, History of the Castle of York (London: Elliot Stock)
  • Cooper, T.P., 1904, York, the Story of its Walls and Castles (London) p. 3-214
  • Camidge, Wm., 1904, Clifford's Tower, York (York) (history)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 277-9 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1884, Mediaeval Military Architecture in England (Wyman and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 534-48 online copy
  • Twyford and Griffiths, 1880, Records of York Castle (London) p. 3-45 (weak)
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 169-71 online copy
  • Grainge, W., 1855, Castles and Abbeys of Yorkshire p. 196-207 online copy
  • Lockwood and Cates, 1834, History and Antiquites of the Fortifications of the City of York (London) p. 43-4
  • Grose, Francis, 1785 (new edn orig 1756), Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 6 p. 78-80 online copy

Antiquarian

  • Speed, John, 1611-12, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain online copy
  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 540
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 54 online copy

Journals

  • Guy, Neil, 2011-12, 'The Rise of the Anti-clockwise Newel Stair' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 25 p. 113-174 online copy
  • Mesqui, Jean, Renn, Derek and Smals Laurens, 2008, ''The Portcullis in Medieval Great Towers: An Impression' Château Gaillard Vol. 23 p. 289-95
  • Harfield, C.G., 1991, 'A Hand-list of Castles Recorded in the Domesday Book' English Historical Review Vol. 106 p. 371-392 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Taylor, A.J., 1986, 'The date of Clifford's Tower, York' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 111 p. 153-9 (reprinted in Taylor, A.J., 1986, Studies in castles and castle-building, (London: Hambledon Press) p. 241–7)
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 311
  • King, D.J.Cathcart, 1972, 'The Field Archaeology of mottes; Eine kurze übersicht' Château Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 101-112
  • Renn, D.F., 1964, 'The first Norman Castles in England 1051-1071' Château Gaillard Vol. 1 p. 125-132
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1955, 'Royal Castle-building in England 1154-1216' English Historical Review Vol. 70 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)) p. 19-64
  • O'Neil, B.H.St.J., 1939, 'Excavations at York Castle, 1935' Antiquaries Journal Vol. 19 p. 85-9 (on dating)
  • O'Neil, B.H.St.J., 1934, 'A note on the date of Clifford's Tower, York' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 91 p. 296-300, 362-3 online copy
  • Armitage, E., 1904, 'The Early Norman Castles of England' English Historical Review Vol. 19 p. 209-245, 417-455 esp. 443-7 online copy
  • Hope, W.H.St J., 1903, 'English Fortresses and Castles of the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 60 p. 87 online copy
  • Benson, G. and Platnauer, H., 1902, 'Notes on Clifford's Tower, York' Yorkshire Philosophical Society Report p. 68-74 and plates VI, VII
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 216 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1875-6, The defences of York' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 4 p. 2-42 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1874, 'The defences of York' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 31 p. 221-61 esp. 255-9 online copy
  • King, E., 1782, 'A Description of Clifford's Tower' Archaeologia Vol. 6

Guide Books

  • Clark, J., 2010, Clifford's Tower (London: English Heritage)
  • Butler, L.A.S., 1997, Clifford’s Tower and the Castles of York (London: English Heritage)
  • Anon, 1987. Clifford’s Tower and the castles of York. (London: English Heritage)
  • 1981, York Castle (RCHME)
  • O'Neil, B.H.St.J., 1979 (2edn), Clifford's Tower, York Castle (HMSO)
  • 1973, York Castle: an illustrated history (RCHME)
  • Renn, D.F., 1971, Clifford's Tower and the castles of York (HMSO)
  • O'Neil, B.H.St.J., 1936, Clifford's Tower, York Castle (HMSO)

Primary Sources

  • 1086, Domesday Book online copy
  • Ingram, James, (ed) 1912, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Everyman Press, London) Worcester Chronicle AD1067 Worcester AD1069 view online transcription (Ingram's translation and notes date from 1823. More recent translations of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles should be consulted for serious study)
  • le Prevost, A. (ed), 1840, Orderici Vitalis, Historiae Ecclesiaticae Vol. 2 p. 184, 185 online copy
  • 1895 The Great Roll of the Pipe for the nineteenth year of the reign of King Henry the Second, A.D. 1172-3 (Pipe Roll Society Publications 19) p. 2 online copy
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1870, Chronica Magistri Rogeri de Houedene (Rolls Series 51) Vol. 3 p. 34 online copy
  • Stubbs, Wm. (ed), 1867, Gesta Regis Henrici Secundi Benedicti Abbatis; Chronicle of the Reigns of Henry II and Richard I. A.D. 1169-1192 (London: Rolls Series 49) Vol. 2 p. 107 online copy
  • Stenton, D.M. (ed.), 1925, The Great Roll of the Pipe for the second year of the reign of King Richard the First, Michaelmas 1190 (Pipe Roll 36) (Pipe Roll Society Publications 39)
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 2 p. 440 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 503-8
  • C145/76(23) (Survey of 1315) The National Archives reference (calendared in Maxwell Lyte, H.C., 1916, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 2 p. 59 No. 244 [online copy > https://archive.org/stream/calendarofinqu02grea#page/59/mode/1up])
  • C145/102(13) (Survey of 1326) The National Archives reference (calendared in Maxwell Lyte, H.C., 1916, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 2 p. 225 No. 903 [online copy > https://archive.org/stream/calendarofinqu02grea#page/225/mode/1up])
  • C145/180(10) (Survey of 1360) The National Archives reference (calendared in Stamp. A.E. (ed), 1937, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 3 p. 130-2 No. 366 [online copy > http://hdl.handle.net/2027/inu.30000095331645?urlappend=%3Bseq=142])

Other

  • Fradley, Michael, 2011, The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) available via EThOS
  • Constable, Christopher, 2003, Aspects of the archaeology of the castle in the north of England C 1066-1216 (Doctoral thesis, Durham University) Available at Durham E-Theses Online