Scarborough Castle

carborough Castle is located high on a headland overlooking the seaside town of Scarborough. Three of its sides are protected by the steep cliffs and the sea. It was built by William de Gros, Earl fo Albemarle during the reign of King Stephen. The castle was attacked and captured by King Henry II in 1155. The king decided that the fortifications he found there were not strong enough so major improvements were ordered. The building work continued over several years with the new keep being built between 1158 and 1159. On the side towards the town is a natural ditch and the entrance to the castle is protected by a curtain wall and a gate-house with round towers.


Scarborough Castle Key Facts
CountyNorth Yorkshire (11 castles)
CategoriesStone / Norman Square Keep / Cliff-top
RemainsSmall amount survives
Access to siteOnly open at certain times
TimeRef Rating
TimeRef Comments
A section of the main keep remains along with parts of the curtain wall.


YearMonthEvent
1136   Construction of a castle at Scarborough
 William le Gros built a castle on the headland at Scarborough. 
1155   Henry takes Scarborough Castle and Bridgnorth
 As part of his attempt to subdue the Barons who had become too powerful during the civil war, Henry took the castle at Scarborough from William of Aumale and Bridgnorth from Hugh Mortimer.[1] 
1312 Qtr 1  Edward looks to Scotland for help
 Gaveston's return to England forced the Archbishop of Canterbury to honour his threat of excommunication and the Earls to prepare for civil war against the king. Edward and Gaveston travelled to Scotland to seek help from Robert the Bruce but were not welcome.[2]

Episode: Edward II and Piers Gaveston  
 May 19  Gaveston surrenders
 While the Earl of Lancaster set up camp midway between York and Scarborough to prevent Gaveston and the King rejoining, the Earls of Pembroke and Surrey besieged Scarborough castle. The castle was not prepared to withstand the stand-off and Gaveston surrendered after a couple of weeks. The terms of his surrender were generous and Pembroke gave his word that Gaveston would not be harmed until he was presented to Parliament.[2]

Episode: Edward II and Piers Gaveston  

Norman Square Keeps

White Tower, London

More about Norman square keeps

One of the most important types of building in the time of William the Conqueror and William Rufus were the Norman keeps. Although many were rebuilt in the following century there are many good examples still remaining. The White Tower in London (pictured left), Dover and Rochester in the south east, Newcastle, Appleby, Carlisle, Brough, Richmond in the north are all examples of this type of castle. Other examples include Portchester, Guilford, Goodrich, Norwich, Castle Rising, Hedingham and Colchester. The castles are all built from a roughly uniform plan. A massive square tower with a square turret at each of the corners that project slightly. Each of the main faces of the castle has a flat buttress running up the centre of the wall for extra strength. The only parts that have decoration are usually the main doorway at the entrance and the chapel. At the centre of the keep are large halls. Some keeps have a dividing wall down the middle. Access to different levels and sections of the castle are by passages and spiral staircases built into the thick walls.

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