Skipton Castle, Skipton, North Yorkshire, England

Skipton Castle is situated within the town of Skipton, North Yorkshire, England. The castle has been preserved for over 900 years, built in 1090 by Robert de Romille, a Norman baron.


The castle has stood in Skipton for over 900 years. It was first built as a motte and bailey castle in 1090 by Robert de Romille, a Norman baron. The wooden castle was replaced with a stone keep as it was not strong enough to withstand attacks from theScots to the north.

In 1310, Edward II granted the castle to Robert Clifford who was appointed Lord Clifford of Skipton and Guardian of Craven. Robert Clifford ordered many improvements to the fortifications but died in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 when the improvements were barely complete.

During the English Civil War it was the only Royalist stronghold in the north of England until December 1645. After a three year siege, a surrender was negotiated in 1645 between Oliver Cromwell and the Royalists. Oliver Cromwell ordered the removal of the castle roofs. During the siege local legend has it that the walls were reinforced against cannon fire by hanging sheep fleeces over the sides to deaden the impact from the rounds and that sheep fleeces feature on the towns coat of arms as a result. Skipton remained the Cliffords' principal seat until 1676. Lady Anne Clifford (1590-1676) was the last Clifford to own it. After the three year siege, she ordered repairs and as a commemoration she planted a yew tree in the central courtyard to mark its repair after the English Civil War.

Today it stands as a well preserved medieval castle and is a tourist attraction and private residence.


The castle has six drum towers, with a domestic range connecting two towers on the northern side, protected by a precipice overlooking the Eller Beck. The first floor comprises the original kitchen, great hall, withdrawing rooms and the lord's bedchamber. New kitchens, storage and work cellars make up the ground floor. The remaining towers are military in nature and purpose. In the 16th and 17th century additions created a new entrance staircase (replacing the original drawbridge), a further domestic wing, and new, larger windows in the original structure. In the centre is a courtyard, known as the Conduit Court, which contains a yew tree, reputedly planted by Lady Anne.

The outer curtain wall encloses the inner wards and various subsidiary buildings, including the ruins of a 12th century chapel. The wall is mainly extant, and is pierced by a twin-towered Norman gatehouse. The east tower of the gatehouse contains a 17th century shell grotto, one of only two remaining grottos from this period (the other is at Woburn Abbey).



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