Castles in North Yorkshire

This post was written by Grace, our wonderful work experience student.

You really are spoiled for choice when looking for castles in North Yorkshire. We have a rich and exciting history that spills over into contemporary life. Walk through impressive castle ruins and get a sense of what life was like before the internet, electric lights and flushing toilets…

Scarborough Castle in North Yorkshire

Scarborough Castle

From Scarborough Castle you get stunning views over the town, up the dramatic Yorkshire coastline and right out to sea. As well as the castle ruins, you can explore the onside exhibition and walk through over 3000 years of history.

The castle regularly hosts lots of family fun and exciting events that make history come to life. You can also reward yourself for the steep walk up with something delicious in their onsite coffee shop. With so much ground to cover inside the castle walls, you’ll deserve a treat!

Richmond Castle

Richmond Castle is situated above the River Swale in North Yorkshire. You can take a walk around the Cockpit garden, visit the conscientious objectors exhibition, or take in the spectacular views of ​Richmond​, the ​River Swale ​and the Yorkshire Dales.

The castle was built by Alan Rufus in 1071 onwards following the Norman conquest of England. The towering keep, over 30 metres (100 feet) high and remarkably complete within, was added during the reign of Henry II in the 1170s. The roof provides splendid views over the clustered houses of the pretty market town of Richmond.

​Bolton Castle

This imposing medieval fortress at the entrance of Wensleydale was first started by Scrope. Scrope was Lord Treasurer and Lord Chancellor to Richard II, and one of the most powerful men in late 14th-century England. His new castle was intended to be a symbol of that power, and one look at the sturdy stone walls will tell you he succeeded.

This historic castle hosts lots of exciting events and activities, such as historic tours and the sights, smells and sounds that bring Bolton Castle to life. From educational trips to a family day out, it offers a variety of things to do to suit everyone.

Castle Howard in North Yorkshire

Castle Howard

This outstanding stately-home-come-castle, was first constructed in 1699 and it took over 100 years to complete. There are lots of fun things to explore on site, including talks and tours that inform you of the history of the castle, whilst you admire the dwelling from the inside and out.

There’s also lots of things to do for the kids such as an adventure park and skelf island. The whole family is sure to enjoy their day exploring the Castle Howard estate and woodland paths.

Ripley Castle and Gardens

Discover this historic landmark and walk through Ripley Castle to unravel all of its many secrets hidden inside, with many tours available to help guide you. There is always something to do, whether that’s wandering the castle, strolling through the deer park or taking part in archery, zorbing and Segway tours.

Skipton Castle

The fortress a is a real must visit on a tour of castles in North Yorkshire. It stands proudly overlooking the charming town of Skipton today, just as it had for over 900 years. You’re able to get a really clear idea just how good castles were at protecting those inside them, as lots of the original defences are still standing.

Skipton Castle’s big twin towers are a must see and you won’t want to miss out on exploring the early Tudor courtyard. See the mason’s marks in the watch tower and learn about the castle’s fascinating history.

Skipton Castle in North Yorkshire

Pickering Castle

We love a trip to Pickering Castle! Exploring the 13th century remains always uncovers something new and interesting. Thanks to its position in the North York Moors, this castle has played host to a wide range of important historical figures that you can learn all about.

Over the centuries, this castle has seen lots of change. Medieval kings used it as a base for their hunting trips, and it’s been a stud farm as well as a holiday home. The chapel still stands and is the base for the interesting exhibit on this castle’s interesting past.

Helmsley Castle

Learn all about Walter ‘The Woodpecker’ Espec and his role in the development of Helmsley Castle when you visit this charming market town. There has been a castle on this site since the 12th century and the estate has seen a lot of change over the years.

The castle has a hands on exhibit that excites visitors of all ages. You really get a feel for what it must have been like to live and work in the castle with such labour intensive defences. You’ll learn all about the military and domestic aspects of this remarkable castle on your visit.

Middleham Castle

You won’t want to pass the chance to visit Middleham Castle. Despite being roofless, much of the original castle is still standing so there is a lot left to explore. It’s effectively a fortified palace and as part of the exhibit, you’re able to see a replica of the Middleham Jewel.

You’re also able to take a look at the remains of an oven and a horse mill, giving you a real sense of what life in the castle was like when it was built in the late 12th century.

Middleham Castle English Heritage PictureImage Credit: English Heritage

Knaresborough Castle

The ruins of Knaresborough Castle could not be in a more stunning location. High above the River Nidd, this castle has gorgeous views over the town. Join a tour group to uncover the history of the castle, visit the King’s Chamber and access the secret underground exit from the castle.

There are plenty of hands on exhibits if you’d prefer to explore the castle on your own too. Try on Civil War costumes, test your skills in the adventure computer game and see an original Tudor courtroom.

Get in touch

There are some really wonderful castles in North Yorkshire for you to explore. You’ll find stunning ruins all over the county that have their own fascinating histories you can uncover during your visit.

Let us know what your favourite castles are by tweeting us or sending a message on Facebook. We love to hear about all your exciting trips.