7 castles in Yorkshire that you should visit

Skipton Castle.

Skipton Castle. - Credit: Archant

Yorkshire has a vast collection of castles and fortresses with a rich and fascinating history. Some have fallen into ruin while some have retained all their medieval splendour. We pick a few of our favourites and an additional building in York that's not quite a castle, but still worth a visit

Conisbrough Castle

Conisbrough Castle by Dennis Hodgetts

Conisbrough Castle by Dennis Hodgetts - Credit: Archant

Conisbrough Castle with its prominent 28-metre high keep was the inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s classic novel Ivanhoe.

Although it has fallen into ruin it is still a popular tourist destination after a £1 million renovation in 2013 which included an installation of a new visitors’ centre and facilities.


Richmond Castle

Richmond Castle by Terry Fletcher

Richmond Castle by Terry Fletcher - Credit: Archant

Originally called Riche Mount, ‘the strong hill’, Richmond Castle was built in the late 11th century by the Normans to consolidate their power in the North of England.

There is plenty to do on the castle grounds; you can take a walk around the Cockpit garden, visit the conscientious objectors exhibition, or take in the spectacular views of Richmond, the River Swale and the Yorkshire Dales.


Scarborough Castle

The site of Scarborough Castle is a natural fortress and has been built on since the Roman times. Its strategic importance was acknowledged by various monarchs throughout the ages and it has played a major role in English history.

As well as the stunning views of the North Sea and the seaside resort below, you can find out more about the history of the site in the exhibitions in the Master Gunner’s House.


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Skipton Castle

Autumn at Skipton Castle by Karol Gajewski

Autumn at Skipton Castle by Karol Gajewski - Credit: Archant

Skipton Castle was built in 1090 by Robert de Romille, lord of the multiple estates of Bolton Abbey. The castle was under siege for three years in the English Civil War until it surrendered in 1645.

These days admission is not as difficult, you can walk freely through the main banqueting hall and climb the Watch Tower where you can take in views of the town and nearby Skipton Castle Woods.


Helmsley Castle

Helmsley Castle Sky by David Pickett

Helmsley Castle Sky by David Pickett - Credit: Archant

Helmsley Castle castle has evolved over the centuries, from a mighty medieval fortress to a luxurious Tudor mansion, to a Civil War stronghold and a romantic Victorian ruin.

The superb vantage point from the remains of the castle give you fantastic views of the market town of Helmsley, the River Rye and the surrounding North York Moors.


Middleham Castle

Middleham Castle by Philip Doncaster

Middleham Castle by Philip Doncaster - Credit: Archant

Middleham Castle traces its roots back almost to the Normal Conquest and was once home to Richard III. 

It was so grand it was known as the Windsor of the North though today it is a ruin looked after by English Heritage.


Bolton Castle

Bolton Castle, near Leyburn, is an imposing and well-preserved square fortress, completed in 1399. It was besieged during the Civil War in 1645. 

A century earlier it was a prison for Mary Queen of Scots on her long journey to her execution.


Clifford’s Tower

Cliffords Tower, York by Garry Hornby

Cliffords Tower, York by Garry Hornby - Credit: Archant

William the Conqueror originally built York Castle in the 11th century, Clifford’s Tower is a much later addition built by Henry III in the mid 13th century.

The Tower is open to visitors and the open-air wall walk at the top gives you fantastic panoramic views of Old York.