York’s iconic ancient monument is home to one thousand years of history. The stunning panoramic views over Old York from the top of Clifford’s Tower, make it the ideal starting point for any visit to the city. There’s plenty to discover at this imposing tower standing proud on its high mound. It is almost all that remains of York Castle built by William the Conqueror, and has served as a prison and a royal mint in its time.
Climb right to the top of the tower to reach the open-air wall walk, once used as a vantage point for castle guards. Imagine who they were on the look-out for and how they would have raised the alarm when they saw enemies approaching. From the wall walk you can see the 18th century buildings that form the ‘Eye of York’. These are the Assize Courts, the Female Prison and Debtors’ Prison. The two prison buildings now form the Castle Museum. Built by William the Conqueror to strengthen his military grip on the north, the mound of Clifford’s Tower is all that remains of his original castle. It was one of the two motte and bailey castles he built in York in 1068-69. The mound of the second, now known as the ‘Old Baile’, can be seen across the river from the tower. Imprisoned in the tower was the notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin, captured under the alias ‘Palmer’. However, a letter he wrote from the tower allowed his true identity to be revealed, through his handwriting, and he was executed in York on 7 April 1739.