Bolton Castle



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This solid square fortress is a medieval masterpiece, commissioned by Sir Richard Scrope – an MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer – as an impressive residence rather than for any defensive purposes. Fascinating documents about the construction still survive – they include the licence to crenellate, dated 1379, and a builders’ contract from 1378 that refers to the construction of the ‘Privees’. You’ll be pleased to know there’s been some improvement of the facilities since those days. Beneath the massive walls there are archery and falconry displays, a herb garden and vineyard, and a tea room too. The magnificent four corner towers that rise to 100 feet give only a small indication of the grandeur of the original building – there were eight halls, each independent household units inside the castle. Bolton Castle’s most notable – if unwilling – resident was Mary, Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned here in July 1568 for six months. You can see the bedchamber in which she is thought to have stayed, decorated in appropriate style. There are tapestries, arms and armour to see, and tableaux give a vivid impression of life in the castle over the years – including a rather scary oubliette dungeon, a hole in the ground into which prisoners were dropped and then forgotten about. An arm bone was found down there, still held by an iron manacle. On the ground floor, just off the courtyard, you’ll find the brew house, the bake house, the meal house, the forge and the threshing floor. On the first floor is the ruined great hall, with the state chamber and guest hall – keep going upwards to find a chapel and some monks’ cells.

Awards, accolades and Welcome Schemes

Quality Assured Visitor Attraction
Bolton Castle
Phone : 01969 623981


  • Suitable for children of all ages
  • Parking onsite
  • Cafe
Opening times
  • Opening Times: Open Apr-end Oct, daily 10-5. Please see website for full details

About the area

Discover North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire, with its two National Parks and two designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is England’s largest county and one of the most rural. This is prime walking country, from the heather-clad heights of the North York Moors to the limestone country that is so typical of the Yorkshire Dales – a place of contrasts and discoveries, of history and legend.

The coastline offers its own treasures, from the fishing villages of Staithes and Robin Hood Bay to Scarborough, one time Regency spa and Victorian bathing resort. In the 1890s, the quaint but bustling town of Whitby provided inspiration for Bram Stoker, who set much of his novel, Dracula, in the town. Wizarding enthusiasts head to the village of Goathland, which is the setting for the Hogwarts Express stop at Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter films.

York is a city of immense historical significance. It was capital of the British province under the Romans in AD 71, a Viking settlement in the 10th century, and in the Middle Ages its prosperity depended on the wool trade. Its city walls date from the 14th century and are among the finest in Europe. However, the gothic Minster, built between 1220 and 1470, is York’s crowning glory.


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