Holiday Photography Focus: Clifford’s Tower, York

Clifford’s Tower, the former Keep of York Castle, is a a landmark in York, rising above almost all the buildings in the city centre.

Clifford’s Tower, the keep of York Castle, sits on a Motte, that would have given it a commanding view over the Norman city of York. Of note is that perhaps because of its location at the confluence of two rivers, York actually had two castles built by William the Conqueror, though this building was a later replacement of one of them. The other castle is only detectable by the existence of a large mound of earth, which had been the motte.

Cliffords Tower, York
Cliffords Tower

Yorkshire skies
The keep today no longer has a roof, though you can walk around the walls and look down into the building. As you can see, there’s not much left in the tower other than a small English Heritage gift shop. The roof and interior of the building were lost in 1684 as a result of a large explosion – clearly using it as a gunpowder store wasn’t the greatest idea. Wikipedia states that there is evidence to suggest that the explosion wasn’t accidental, hinted at by the fact none of the resident garrison were injured in the explosion.
Cliffords Tower

Some of the pinkish hues of the stones that you might see in the photo below are supposed to have resulted from the heat of the fire following the explosion.

One of the darker events that took place in the castle, was a pogrom of upto 500 local Jews in 1190. That iteration of the tower, built in wood was eventually damaged in a gale and Henry III ordered the castle to be rebuilt. Henry III is notable for the building of York Minster in its current guise (though the work lasted for many years and with some subsequent amendments).

We visited on the YorkPass, so got in for free, however, it’s a lovely compact structure, from which you can take in the city of York and the surrounding country for a far more reasonable price than going up the tower of York Minster.

Cliffords Tower

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