The Best Castles in Yorkshire

Scarborough Castle was built in the 12th century on the site of an Iron Age fort
Scarborough Castle was built in the 12th century on the site of an Iron Age fort | © Loop Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Nicholas Grantham

Yorkshire is known for its history. From William the Conqueror to the War of the Roses, Yorkshire has featured prominently throughout England’s past, and its plethora of castles stand as proof of its importance in England’s story. Here are the best castles and keeps to explore on your next trip up to the good old North.

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Skipton Castle

One of the best-maintained castles in the country, Skipton Castle has stood in the town of Skipton for more than 900 years. Situated in the heart of the town centre, the castle offers guests a well-rounded visit, with a banqueting hall, dungeon and even a medieval privy to explore.

Conisbrough Castle

Slap-bang in the middle of the South Yorkshire village of Conisbrough, this impressive castle has been around since the 12th century. The castle is a great destination for families, as there are several educational exhibits in both the keep itself and the nearby visitor centre.

Bolton Castle

A Grade 1 listed building, Bolton Castle is an impressive medieval behemoth standing in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. In addition to the unspoiled stone walls, the castle sports pristine grounds, including rose gardens, vineyards and even a huge maze.

Knaresborough Castle

Overlooking the nearby River Nidd, Knaresborough Castle has some spectacular views of the local countryside. Playing a key role in the civil war, Knaresborough castle has a rich history in the local area. Although the castle is closed to the public during the winter’s months, its grounds are open as a public park all year round.

Scarborough Castle

With its stone walls first built in the 12th century, Scarborough Castle has a commanding presence along the jagged northeast coastline. The castle has been featured in plenty of historical events, from Viking invasion to civil war sieges. Be sure to stop off at the former Master Gunners House, which has now been converted into a charming tea room.

Helmsley Castle

Surrounded by the sweeping North York Moors, Helmsley Castle has a foreboding aura. Don’t be fooled by its harsh exterior, though: it has a wonderful visitor centre and friendly staff. If you are looking to extend your trip, why not take a visit to the nearby Byland Abbey for a further slice of history.

Clifford’s Tower

York Castle, or as it is more commonly known, Clifford’s Tower is all that remains of the fortress built by William the Conqueror. Perched on a high mound overlooking York, the castle has been used as a stronghold, prison and even a royal mint during its long history.

Middleham Castle

Just outside the village of the same name, Middleham Castle offers its visitors some fantastic views of the Yorkshire Dales. Once home to the infamous king Richard III, the castle is now mostly ruins set amongst a beautiful natural backdrop.

Pontefract Castle

Once known as the ‘Key to the North’, Pontefract Castle is a must-visit destination on our list. With the fortress’s history dating back to the Norman conquest, the building itself has been an essential part of English history. Outside of it’s impressive stone walls, the castle has plenty on offer for guests, such as events, activities and workshops running throughout the year.

Ripley Castle

Another Grade 1 listed building, the castle has been home to the Ingilby family since the 14th century. Nowadays however, outside of the pristine castle walls, the grounds are home to an over-abundance of outdoor activities including zorbing, archery and kayaking.

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