Scarborough Castle stands out on the skyline and dominates the town and harbour below. Standing on a large grassy headland 300 feet (90 meters) high it commands spectacular views north and south along the coast, and inland towards the North Yorkshire Moors.
The present castle was not, however, the first defensive settlement to be built on this headland. Remains of habitation from as long ago as 900 -700BC suggest there were late Bronze Age and early Iron Age settlements on the headland. The Romans built a signal station on the cliffs in the fourth century and after their departure from Britain the next noticeable signs of occupation were not until the seventh or eighth centuries when a Saxon monastery was built.
The Normans constructed the first stone gate tower and walls in approximately 1135, but this is not what you see today. The present castle and the Norman keep which gives Scarborough its unique landmark was built in the 1160s. Through medieval times and successive centuries the walls and fortifications were strengthened and improved until the 1600s and the Civil War. After a second siege by Parliamentarian forces the demolition of the castle was ordered in 1649. However, the damage already caused was so great this order was not carried through.
This was not the end for the castle and the view seen today, particularly from the harbour and South Bay of the curtain walls, is due to further additions. The outer buildings were used as a prison and barracks. The menace of the Jacobite Rebellion in 1746 and the threat of French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars led to the refurbishment of the curtain walls and the establishment of Artillery Batteries. This lasted until 1914 when the castle was shelled by German battle cruisers patrolling the North Sea.
So next time you visit Scarborough for a short break, holiday or even just a day trip, make the effort to walk up the hill and see the castle and the views for yourself.
The castle is in the care of English Heritage. For information on opening times and admission prices please click on the link below.