Clifford's Tower is the only part left of the Castle at York, it was originally built by William the Conqueror in order to subdue the rebelias north. originally it was built of wood and has been burnt to the ground twice in it's life, the first time was when the Jewish population of York took refuge there after a missunderstanding by the local population and the Jews were blamed for the hardships of the local peopl;e, they sheltered in the tower and it was set alight the oones that escaped the flames were killed by the local people. it was again rebuilt by Henry III in the 13th century.
The towe's name comes from one grisly incident in its long history, it is named after Roger de Clifford who was executed for treason against Edward II and was hanged wrapped in chains from the towers walls.
English Heritage Members Free
Thu 1 Apr 2010 - Thu 30 Sep 2010 Mon - Sun 10:00 to 18:00
Fri 1 - Sun 31 Oct 2010 Mon - Sun 10:00 to 17:00
Mon 1 Nov 2010 - Thu 31 Mar 2011 Mon - Sun 10:00 to 16:00
Christmas Day, Boxing Day closed
New Year's Day closed
Notes Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan
Clifford's Tower dates all the way back to the 11th Century, when it was built by William the Conqueror, as part of York Castle, shortly after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The original building was burned down within a year, though its replacement lasted until 1190, when it was burned down in anti-Jewish riots, an event commemmorated by a plaque at the base of the tower. The stone tower you see today was completed in 1270, though its roof was blown off after a fire in the 17th Century. The tower is named after Sir Richard Clifford, who was hanged here in 1322 after a failed rebellion.
It costs 2.50 pounds to enter the remains of Clifford's Tower. Inside are a number of information panels, presenting a history of the tower, and a small replica of how the tower and the castle looked in medieval times. There is also a walkway along the top of the tower, from where there are good views over the city. The views were obscured somewhat during my visit by the rain and fog, reducing visibilty to just beyond the Minster.
The Normans, when they conquered England in 1066, were very keen on building castles. These all followed the same pattern: first the construction of a motte (a mound) with a 'keep' on top, then of an adjoining defended enclosure for cattle, workhops, barracks etc etc. At first all the keeps were wood, but gradually many (though not all by any means) were replaced by stone (the Tower of London was the first stone keep).
Cliffor'd Tower stands on a very impressive motte indeed.........in fact, I think it is the best of its type still visible, as many others have been built on/changed/adapted over the centuries. It's a massive mound, built entirely by human labour, dating from 1068, was originally topped by a wooden keep which burnt down twice: once following a local rebellion and again in 1190, when local Jews took refuge there. There is a Jewish memorial to this eveny set into the motte.
The stone 'keep' on top of the motte is unusual in design. It's more like French castles of the same date, probably because its architect was French (he designed Westminstr Abbey too). It too was affected by fire in 1641, when the roof was lost.
There is little to see within the walls now, apart from the well, the footings for the masive stone pillar which supported the roof and a small chapel. But it's worth the 3GBP entrance fee for the stunning and extensive views of York from the tower walls.
I wandered through the entire exhibit at Clifford's Tower, did I miss the section on Clifford? Just who the heck was he?
The tower is set up on the top of a hill, climb up the 55 stairs to get to the admission booth. After paying the L2.80 to get inside, take a look around at the exhibits inside, I especially liked the model of York back when Clifford's Tower was something besides a tourist attraction so you could see how it related to the security of the town.
Don't miss going to the top of the Tower for a look around (yep, more stairs!) from a different perspective than the Minster. The stairs were hidden behind a gift shop so be sure to find them.
Just in case you want a bit of history, the Tower was built between 1245-1260 as a stronghold on top of the mound that was constructed during the reign of William the Conqueror in 1068. The roof and floors were lost in a fire in 1684.
And if you're still wondering who Clifford was, I looked it up after I got home and it turns out it was named for Roger de Clifford, who was hanged there in 1322, executed by Edward II for treason. Clifford was hanged in chains from the walls of the tower has since been known as "Clifford's Tower". Seems sort of odd to honor someone accused of treason though, doesn't it?
William the Conqueror built two wooden fortresses in York - one of them he built on a hill near the place where the river Foss runs into river Ouse.
1190, however, this fortress burned down when 150 Jews seeked shelter in there from a violent mob outside. Many of the Jews took their own lives and others died in the flames they had lit - those who finally surrendered were massacred and murdered. The tower burned down.
Later a new fortress was built at the same spot - made out of stone this time. Clifford's Tower is the only part of the fortress still existant.
You can go inside and climb it to get a nice view of the city - but we didn't.
A wooden keep stood on this site in 1190 when it was burnt down - it had stood there since 1068. The Jewish community had taken refuge in the tower and Yorks citizens laid them to siege here - many of the people in the tower fearing the crowds committed suicide and set fire to the wooden tower. The survivors were massacred by the crowds. The Kings Chancellor made the people of York pay for this atrocity and the city leaders were all dismissed from their posts although no citizens were brought to justice.
The tower you see today was built in the latter half of the thirteenth century an it was rebuilt in stone. Built to a quatrefoil plan there is no other example in England. It became Cliifords Tower when it was named after Roger de Clifford who was hanged here in 1322.
It is a steep climb up to the tower - beware of leg cramps that many people get when climbing up. Of course not possible for disabled people.
Entrance is £4.00 (in 2012)
Clifford's Tower (what is left of the motte-and-bailey castle - see picture)may seem small, but it has played a big role in the history of York. It was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068 as a way of keeping an eye on rebels in the north.
Outside the entrance to Clifford's Tower (bottom of the stairs, to the left) is a plaque that reads: "On the night of Friday 16th of March 1190 some 150 Jews and Jewesses of York having sought protection in the Royal Castle on this site from a mob incited by Richard Malebisse and others chose to die at each others hands rather than renounce their faith" (Isaiah XI II 12)
For the sheer drama of its setting and, its chequered history, there is little in York to rival Clifford's Tower.
The tower stands on a high mound erected by William the Conqueror as part of his campaign to overthrow the North. It's not that far away to where King Harold repelled the Vikings before he had to head south to try and stop William.
William threw up two mottes (mounds) with wooden keeps on top - one became Clifford's Tower and the other, Baille Hill, can be seen on the side of the river, although the tower there has long since disappeared, being razed as a protest.
The inhabitants of old Northumbria did not abandon York to its fate. There were several uprisings against the Norman invaders. Aided by King Sweyn of Denmark, the north rose in revolt, defeated the Norman garrison and sacked York.
William retaliated with an unprecedented savagery. He retook York, and for the next two years laid waste to the country, burning crops, and destroying villages and farms.
The Domesday Book, compiled almost twenty years after William's "Harrying of the North", records that the population of Yorkshire fell from 8,000 to 2,000. More tellingly, it described the region between York and Durham as wasteland.
The city of York emerged from this devastation as a phoenix rising from the ashes. The city walls were rebuilt and strengthened, and the old woden Viking buildings were reconstructed in stone. Four new fortified gates, or "bars", were built to regulate traffic through the walls. The Foss was diverted to feed the moats of both Norman castles.
York blossomed under the Normans, and quickly regained its economic importance in the north. This prosperity in trade and commerce is reflected in the imposing Merchant Adventurers' Hall and the Guildhall.
Being raised in a post WWII world and, in a far off country, I sort of thought when I was young that it was basically the Germans who hated the Jews but, after several trips to Europe, it amazes me that they have survived at all, so persecuted have they been.
Clifford's Tower was the scene of what was perhaps one of the most terrible events in York's history. In 1190 the Jews of York sought refuge there after being attacked by a local mob, whose anger had been inflamed by a hermit. There are some who will suggest that they were given the choice of being either baptised or killed but they took a third option and committed mass suicide. More informed sources indicate that, after being beseiged for days they were attacked and murdered by some of the local populace and some of the many Christians, who owed money to the Jews, wiped their debts by destroying the records.
This is something I couldn't help but note is bypassed or glossed over in many references which, to my way of thinking, is a shame. It is only by learning the stupidity of past actions that, maybe one day, humans will learn not to repeat them.
At that time the tower was built of timber and so it was easily burned to the ground. It was then, rather obviously, rebuilt in the stone that you see today.
The current Clifford's Tower was built around before 1190, while in that year the tower played host to a bloody racial massacre of the Jews in York at that time. There is more rather grizzly history surrounding the building, but I just got a look from the outside, which is perched on a little hill near York Castle Museum.
The site of Clifford's Tower is steeped in Saxon, Viking, Roman and Medieval history. The tower is all that remains of the 11th centaury York Castle build on the mound.
Views from the tower walls over the city centre are alright, yet views out over York are from the Minster are much more impressive for the money you pay. The information boards within the grounds are also quite basic and to be honest you can get all you need to know from your guidebook and admiring the site from the outside, because within it is simply a shell. But an remarkable shell at that.
The site of Clifford's Tower was used by the Romans as a cemetery. The bronze and pottery evidence confirms Saxon and Viking occupation. Standing high on its mound, the 11th century Clifford's Tower is the last remaining part of York Castle. In 1068 William the Conqueror built a mound and the round tower, of wood, to establish his control in the North. The castle's most tragic event took place in 1190, when half of the city's Jewish population took refuge from persecution there. They and the then wooden tower were burned. Later, in the 13th century, it was rebuilt in stone by Henry III . The tower, is known as 'Clifford's Tower' because in 1322, Edward II had the rebel Lord Robert Clifford hanged in chains from the walls. It was the central keep of the castle. There were more buildings, surrounded by great walls and then a moat around the whole fortress.
Although little remains of the rest of the castle, it's worth the climb to the top of Clifford's Tower for the wonderful view over York
Clifford’s Tower is under threat! Yes, the City of York is allowing developers to build a shopping centre – on both sides! Stop the madness! Please follow the lings below to fight for Clifford’s Tower! This castle has seen untold carnage and destruction before- just not for 400 years.
William The Conquer had trouble keeping the good people of York loyal to him, so he built 2 castles in the centre to keep an eye on the local, and sometimes, rebellious populace. The first Motte (central strong position) was built on the site in 1068. That lasted about 1 year and then the locals rebelled and burned it down. William came back to the area, torched most of the city and exacted bloody reprisals then just built it back. He was the King after all.
In 1190 the resident Jewish community found themselves in the middle of a mob assault when a local man, Richard Malebisse, incited anti-Jewish feelings within the community. The Jews fled inside the tower for shelter. When they began to run low on food they set fire to the wooded structure so they would not have to surrender to the bloodthirsty mob outside. The few survivors were put to death and their business records recoding debts owed to them were destroyed. A shameless and bloody chapter in York history.
In the 1200’s the tower was finally built in stone. It was destroyed by a bad storm in 1245. You are starting to get the idea that this tower has a sad history. It was rebuilt in stone again in 1313. About 50 years later subsidence from the ground underneath caused its very noticeable crack down the middle. In 1322 Roger de Clifford was hanged by chains from the walls for opposing King Edward II. Bad career move. This is where the name Clifford’s Tower comes from.
And now the invaders are back and they have bulldozers! Please follow th link below to stop the crazy idea to build a shopping centre on both sides of this historic and cursed piece of history!
The tower is all that remains of York Castle. A wooden castle was built on the site in 1086 under the rule of William the Conqueror. The castle was then twice burnt down. The second time in 1190 was when a mob of citizens rioted against the Jewish population of York. The Jews took refuge in the castle, many committing suicide rather than be captured. The castle was set on fire killing many more, the survivors of this were then slaughtered by the mob.
After another wooden castle blew down, it was replaced by a stone one in 1270, built on the orders of Henry III. The tower gained its name in 1322, Roger de Clifford was executed here for treason against Edward II.
Today the castle gives visitors an insight into York's history & panoramic views of the city from atop its walls.
The castle is open every day except Dec 24th to Dec 26th & 1st January. The current price for an adult is £3.50.
Climb up Clifford's Tower and enjoy a magnificent view over York!
Original wooden tower was burned down in the anti-semitic riots of 12th century. The present stone structure has witnessed events from the 13th century, including the hanging of Sir Richard Clifford - from just below where u stand to enjoy the view! Entry is 50p.