Unlike most medieval castles, Scarborough saw action in World War I, when shells from German battleships struck it. Historical records indicate that this was not the first time that the castle had come under attack, and several English kings received bills for repairs, from Henry II to James I. The rocky headland on which the castle was built had been an important site for hundreds of years before the Normans came, the cliffs providing a natural defence, which was further strengthened by curtain walls. The keep, now in ruins, was built by Henry II on the site of an earlier tower. It was originally 100 feet high, and had walls up to 12 feet thick. The Norman version you see today dates back to the year 1136, when William de Gros decided to rebuild in stone an earlier wooden fort. Henry II, concerned that many of his noblemen were growing too powerful, set about destroying their castles. He spared Scarborough, however. Impressed by its air of impregnability, he requisitioned the castle and kept it for himself. Scarborough Castle was never taken by force, but attackers did manage to starve the defenders into surrendering. On one occasion, in 1645, Hugh Royalist troops were besieged by the Scots and the Great Keep was badly damaged by Scottish artillery. Unable to hold out any longer, they were allowed to surrender with honour intact; those men who could still stand were allowed to march out of the castle. The castle was heavily besieged again in 1648 when the Parliamentary garrison, discontented because they had not been paid, went over to the King’s side; they too were starved into submission. Should all this make you feel peckish yourself, there’s fortunately now a tea room located in the Master Gunner’s House.
Facilities – at a glance
- Parking nearby
- Facilities: Audio tour with hearing loop (included in admission price), touch screen virtual tour, tour transcripts, ramp, onsite parking for disabled guests only
- Open all year
- Opening Times: Open all year, Mar-Sep, see website for details; Oct, daily 10-5; Nov-23 Dec, Jan-11Feb and 19 Feb-29 Mar, Sat-Sun 10-4; 27-31 Dec and 12-18 Feb, daily 10-4 (last admission 30 minutes before closing and tea room closes 30 minutes before cas
Also in the area
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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