Clifford’s Tower: History and Stories
York’s iconic ancient monument is home to one thousand years of history. The raised earthwork was once the site of a timber keep built by William the Conqueror. It burnt down during the worst event in the site’s history: the Jewish massacre of 1190.
Clifford’s Tower has looked over the city of York from 1245 until the present day. Once part of York Castle, the tower played a role in turbulent national events such as the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the English Civil War. Today the site is still giving up its secrets.
Image © Getty Images/Universal History Archive/UIG
Clifford’s Tower through time
History of Clifford's Tower
Read about the rise and fall of Clifford’s Tower from Norman times to today.
The Jewish Massacre at Clifford's Tower
An account of the tragic events of 1190 and the rise of anti-Semitism in medieval England.
Why is Clifford's Tower Important?
Clifford’s Tower is the largest surviving structure of York Castle. Find out why it still matters and what it tells us about the city of York.
Introduction to Medieval England
Discover how England developed following the invasion of William the Conqueror, who founded the first castle at the site of Clifford’s Tower.
English Civil War
Clifford’s Tower was a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War. Learn about how the devastating conflict transformed the British Army.
Buy the Guidebook
Explore the site of Clifford’s Tower and read about its history in the official guidebook.
Resources for researchers
Research on Clifford's Tower
Find out what academics have uncovered about Clifford’s Tower and the role it has played in history.
Description of Clifford's Tower
Discover what the surviving architectural features of Clifford’s Tower tell us about its history and function.
Sources for Clifford's Tower
A list of the main written, visual and material sources for further study of Clifford’s Tower.
Download a plan of Clifford's Tower
Download plans and cross-sections showing how Clifford’s Tower has developed over time.
Please Support Today
You can help us bring the history of England to life.
Your donation will enable us to conserve England's historic sites and help us to tell inspiring stories from history for generations to come.