From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Scarborough Castle

North Yorkshire
54° 17′ 13.2″ N 0° 23′ 18.46″ W

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Scarborough Castle is located in Scarborough, North Yorkshire and sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking Scarborough and the North Sea. It was built on an Iron Age settlement which includes a Roman signal station and an Anglo Scandinavian settlement. A battery was built in the grounds of the castle in the 18th century.

Work on the castle started in the 1130's, consisting of a wooden keep and walls, these were later replaced by stone in the 1150's. Other buildings were added and alterations made to the castle over the centuries.

As the town below the castle expanded and became a thriving port, one governor, Geoffrey de Neville, in the 13th century, used the garrison to seize port goods. Since governors were not required to reside in the castle, they often pocketed funds rather than used them for repairs, so that in the mid 13th century the defences were in disrepair.

Henry de Percy occupied the castle in 1308, he built a brew house, bake house and kitchens in the castle grounds as well as refortifying the castle. Edward II imprisoned some of his Scottish enemies in the castle in 1311.

The castle was attacked several times during the hundred years war, 1337 - 1453 by enemy forces. Richard III resided at the castle in 1484, while he formed a fleet of war ships to fight the Tudors, a conflict he was to lose.

The castle was attacked in the early 16th century, this time by the Scottish and the French. Later in 1536, Robert Aske tried to take the castle during the Pilgrimage of Grace, a revolt against the Dissolution of the Monasteries and Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic Church.

The castle was again fortified and defended during the civil wars, with long sieges and heavy damage to the castle. It changed sides between the Royalists and Parliamentarians seven times in total. The castle was later used as a prison for those who were thought to be enemies of the Commonwealth of England. The castle was returned to the Crown following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

George Fox, who founded the Quakers, was imprisoned in Scarborough Castle in the 17th century.

The castle was re-fortified during the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. Three gun batteries were built along with barracks for the 120 officers and men stationed there. The threat of French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars led to the permanent establishment of a garrison, which remained until the mid-19th century. French prisoners were held at the castle during 1796.

The castle and town were bombarded during the First World War by two German warships, the SMS Derfflinger and SMS Von der Tann, on 16 December 1914. 19 people were killed and the castle's keep, barracks and curtain walls were damaged. The barracks were later demolished due to extensive damage. This exposed the medieval foundations of Mosdale Hall, which can still be seen. In the Second World War, the castle served as a secret listening post.

In 1920, the castle was taken into public ownership by the Ministry of Works. Since 1984 it has been managed by English Heritage.