Skipton Castle

Skipton Castle

Location: Skipton, North Yorkshire Map

Constructed: 1090 by Robert de Romille

Tel. 01756 792442

Open: daily

Closed: 25 Dec

Entrance Fee: adult £5.80

children (5- 15 yrs) £3.20

Official site


History of Skipton Castle

Skipton Castle is a massive medieval fortress situated in Skipton, North Yorkshire in United Kingdom. Skipton Castle was constructed in 1090 by Robert de Romille as a wooden timber fortress. The citadel was given to Robert Clifford by king Edward II. In 1310 new owners replaced the previous fort with a stone castle. Just four years later Robert Clifford was killed in 1314 in the Battle of Bannockburn (final scenes of "Braveheart" in case you were wandering which battle is that) where English were defeated by the Scottish warriors.



The castle originally arose as a moth. Its builder, Robert de Romille, was lord of various estates at Bolton Abbey. Shortly after 1102, King Henry I enfeoffed Romille with additional lands in Upper Wharferdale and Upper Airdale. The castle of earth and wood was replaced by one of stone, which could withstand the attacks of the Scots. The cliffs behind the castle, sloping down towards Eller Beck, made the castle well defensible. The Romille line died out and in 1310 King Edward II gave the castle as a fief to Robert Clifford, who became Lord of Skipton and Warden of Craven. Robert Clifford had the castle's fortifications extended on a number of occasions, but died at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, almost as soon as the fortifications were completed.

During the English Civil War, the castle was the only Royalist position in northern England until December 1645. After a three-year siege, the Royalists negotiated a surrender with Oliver Cromwell in 1645. Cromwell ordered the roofs of the castle to be demolished. Legend has it that during the siege, sheepskins were hung over the castle walls to soften the impact of cannonballs. These sheepskins also feature on the Skipton town coat of arms.

Lady Anne Clifford (1590–1676) was the last Clifford to own the castle. After the siege, she ordered repairs and had a yew tree planted in the central courtyard to commemorate the post-war repairs.

Today, Skipton Castle is still well preserved and serves as a tourist attraction and private residence.



The castle has six defensive towers. Between two towers on the north side are the living quarters, protected by the chasm above the Eller Beck. The upper floor contains the original kitchen, the great hall, the drawing rooms and the lord's bedchamber. New kitchens, storage rooms and work cellars are housed on the ground floor. The other towers are of a military nature and served military purposes. In the 16th and 17th centuries a new entrance staircase (replacing the old drawbridge), another living wing and larger windows were added to the original structure. The roofs are completely intact. In 1626 Isaac de Caus installed a grotto, but it was badly damaged in the English Civil War. At the center of the castle is a Tudor style courtyard, Conduit Court, with a yew tree said to have been planted by Lady Anne Clifford in 1659 in the centre.

The outer curtain wall encloses the inner courtyards and outbuildings, including the ruins of the 12th-century chapel. The castle wall is mostly intact, but broken through by the double-towered Norman gatehouse. The east tower of the gatehouse houses a 17th-century shell grotto, one of two shell grottos from this period that still exist today. (The other is in Woburn Abbey.)