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Visiting Clifford’s Tower in York: Everything You Need to Know

Clifford’s Tower is the largest remaining part of York Castle. See how you can visit the ruined keep of this Norman castle in York, England here.

There’s not much left of York Castle, but what you can still see of it is worth a visit. I had the pleasure of visiting Clifford’s Tower when I studied abroad in England.

In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting Clifford’s Tower, including what to see while you’re there, the castle’s history, and where to stay nearby.

Clifford's Tower, York, England

Clifford’s Tower Overview

Clifford’s Tower is all that remains of York Castle, a Norman castle that once presided over York, England.

For much of the castle’s history, it was a prison. It has a bloody history of massacre, murder, and execution that’s worth learning about.

Clifford’s Tower History

Clifford's Tower Model, York, England

Clifford’s Tower, the common name for what’s left of York Castle in York, England, is a motte-and-bailey style castle built by William the Conqueror in 1068. The tower (the bailey) stands atop a tall mound (the motte), making it difficult to penetrate.

This castle was the site of one of the worst anti-Semitic massacres of the Middle Ages.

In 1190, when fleeing persecution, the city’s entire Jewish community sought protection from the “keeper of the King’s tower”. There, an angry mob of York residents and the King’s troops trapped the Jewish community inside the Tower.

Rather than wait to be killed or forcibly baptized, many families decided to take their own lives. The father of each family would kill his wife and children, and then he would take his own life.

Any Jews who agreed to convert and left the Tower were murdered as soon as they came out. The families inside also set fire to the wooden tower and all of their possessions before their deaths. It’s estimated that 20 to 40 families, or 150 people, were massacred.

The Tower gets its name from another gruesome incident in 1322 when Edward II had rebel Lord Roger de Clifford executed for treason and hanged in chains from the tower walls.

York Castle was more of an administrative structure rather than a royal castle. It mostly served as a place for imprisonment, storage, and judicial proceedings. In its long life, the castle has served as a garrison, a prison, a royal mint, and now a tourist attraction.

Touring Clifford’s Tower

Clifford's Tower Ruins, York, England

There isn’t a lot left of Clifford’s Tower to see today. An explosion in 1684 destroyed the interior of the Tower, but you can still explore the roofless keep.

Your visit to the castle starts with a steep climb up the steps of the motte.

Informative plaques explain the castle’s history and illustrate how the castle would have looked back in the day. On your visit, you’ll learn the tragic fates of those who were imprisoned here.

The highlight of visiting the Tower is a trip to the top of the tower for panoramic views of York. From here you can also get an idea of the layout of the medieval town of York.

Visiting Clifford’s Tower

Clifford's Tower, York, England

Admission: Standard tickets to Clifford’s Tower costs £9.50 for adults, £8.50 for students and seniors 65+, and £5.50 for children ages 5-17.

Prices are cheaper during the off-peak times (typically during the winter) and are more expensive during peak times (typically summer and holidays).

Book your tickets online in advance to save 10%.

Hours: The Tower is open from daily 10 a.m. — 6 p.m. in the summer months and from 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. in the winter months.

The quietest time to visit the Tower is before 11 a.m. and after 2 p.m.

Address: Tower St, York YO1 9SA, United Kingdom

Hotels Near Clifford’s Tower

Find a place to stay near Clifford’s Tower. Here are the closest hotels to this Norman castle:

Clifford’s Tower FAQ

What is Clifford’s Tower?

Clifford’s Tower is all that remains of York Castle, a Norman castle that once presided over York, England.

When was Clifford’s Tower built?

York Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068, but the present stone tower of Clifford’s Tower wasn’t built until the 1270s. A timber tower was built on the mound until it burned down in 1190 during the Jewish massacre.

Who lived in York Castle?

York Castle served as more of an administrative structure rather than a residence. It mostly served as a place for imprisonment, storage, and judicial proceedings.

Why is it called Clifford’s Tower?

Clifford’s Tower is named for the rebel Roger de Clifford who was executed here after the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322. His body was then displayed at the Tower.

Castle Count: 7

More England Resources

Ready to visit Clifford’s Tower in York, England? Plan your trip with these tips.

  • Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
  • Find accommodation: You can find top hotels in York using
  • Get packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.



Visiting Clifford's Tower in York, England

Have you visited Clifford’s Tower in York, England? Tell me about your trip in the comments!

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