York Castle is a fortified complex of castles, prisons, law courts and other buildings built over the last nine centuries on the south side of the River Foss.

Originally on the orders of William I to dominate the former Viking city of Jórvík, the castle suffered a tumultuous early history before developing into a major fortification. This first castle at York was a basic wooden motte and bailey castle built between the rivers Ouse and Foss. 

Henry II visited York Castle four times during his reign. In 1190, York Castle was the location of one of the worst pogroms in England during the medieval period. King John used York Castle extensively during his reign, using the keep as his personal quarters for his own security.

Between 1245 and 1270, the castle saw the the construction of a towered curtain wall, a gatehouse with two large towers, a small watergate, a chapel and a new stone keep (Clifford’s Tower) among others.

Maintaining the castle was becoming increasingly expensive, and in 1614 King James sold the lease on Clifford’s Tower and the surrounding land.

Visit York Castle


Assistance Dogs
Carpark Nearby
Some Floors Accessible
A cross-section of Clifford's Tower in 1903
A cross-section of Clifford's Tower in 1903. Cooper, Thomas (1869-1937), "History of York Castle", 1911. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
A diorama of York Castle, with the background blacked out for clarity
A diorama of York Castle, with the background blacked out for clarity. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


Open daily: 9.30am – 5pm.

Closed: 25, 26 December and 1 January.


Tower St, York YO1 9SA


0370 333 1181


Type of TicketAdmission Price
Adult (with 10% Gift Aid Donation)£12
Adult (without donation)£10
Child (5-16)£4
Student/Young Person£8.40
York Resident£8.72
Child (under 5) and YMT Card HolderFree


York Castle Gifts

Similar Castles

Medieval Britain: Newark Castle. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Newark Castle

Newark Castle is a 12th century castle by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln.

British Castles: Corfe Castle.

Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle is a ruined castle on the route between Wareham and Swanage.

More to see in Yorkshire and the Humber

Knaresborough Viaduct


Knaresborough is a 12th-Century market town perched on the cliffs above the River Nidd.

Medieval Cities and Towns: York


York was founded in 71 AD and grew as a major wool trading centre.

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