Sources for Clifford’s Tower

This page lists the main written, visual and material sources, published and unpublished, for the study of Clifford’s Tower.

Sketch of York Castle from the Mill Bank by Francis Place, 1699
Sketch of York Castle from the Mill Bank by Francis Place, 1699 © York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)

Unpublished Primary Sources

British Library, London

  • Harley MS 433, fols 183v, 187 [commission for the repair of the castle, 2 Richard III].

The National Archives, Kew

Researchers should consult the National Archives website and make use of the extensive online catalogue, Discovery.

Among the most important classes of document relating to Clifford’s Tower and York Castle are:

  • Chancery: miscellaneous: C 145/102 no. 13 (2); C 145/180 no. 10 [inquisitions into defects at York Castle]
  • Exchequer: accounts, various: E 101/302/2; E 101/501/8, /10, /11, /12, /13; E 101/502/14 no. 30; E 101/502/23, /26; E 101/597/20, /21, /22; E 101/598/4, /5, /6, /24, /37, /38, /39, /43, /44, /45, /46, /47; E 101/612/72 [works at York Castle]
  • Exchequer: Memoranda Rolls: E 159/47 m7; E159/71 rot 114d [works at York Castle]
  • Exchequer: sheriff's accounts, petitions, etc: E 199/49/64 [works at York Castle]
  • Exchequer: Pipe Rolls: E 372/116 m22d; E 372/164 rot 28d; E 372/172; E 372/173 rot 42d; E 372/180 rot 37; E 372/205 rot 6d; E 372/207 rot 13; E 372/209 rot 9d; E 372/210 rot 7d [works at York Castle]
  • WORK 14/130 [Office of Works, guardianship file, 1913–15]
  • WORK 14/912 [Office of Works, works file 1916–37].

Staffordshire Record Office, Stafford

  • Dartmouth MS, SCROD(W) 1778/III/02 [fortifications at York Castle, 1643–82]. 

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • E 1496-1931 [sketchbook of Francis Place, containing sketches dated 1699–1717].

 York City Archives, York

  • B31/191b, /192, /200 [records of controversy over Robert Redhead’s damage to Clifford’s Tower, 1596].

Published Primary Sources

Calendar of the Close Rolls (London, various) [subscription required; accessed 29 Oct 2104]

Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous, vol 3 (London, 1937) [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

Calendar of the Liberate Rolls of King Henry III, vols 1–6 (volume 1 online) (London, various) [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

Calendar of State Papers (London, various) [subscription required; accessed 29 Oct 2104]

Appleby, JT (ed), The Chronicle of Richard of Devizes of the Time of King Richard the First (London, 1963), 3–4

Bond, EA (ed), Chronica Monasterii de Melsa, vol 1, Rolls Series (London, 1866), 251–2 [accessed 26 Feb 2018]

Howlett, R (ed), Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II and Richard I, vol 1: First Four Books of the Historia Rerum Anglicarum of William of Newburgh, Rolls Series, 82 (London, 1884), 312–24 [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

Johnson, C and Jenkinson, H, English Court Hand, vol 1 (London, 1915), 181–4 [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

Letters and Papers, Henry VIII (London, various) [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

The Pipe Roll 2 Richard I (London, 1925), 58–9

The Pipe Roll 3 and 4 Richard I (London, 1926), 61

Stevenson, J (ed), Radulfi de Coggeshall Chronicon Anglicanum, Rolls Series (London, 1875), 27 [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

Stubbs, W (ed), Chronica Magistri Rogeri de Houedene, vol 3, Rolls Series (London, 1870), 33–4 [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

Hand-tinted sketch of Clifford's Tower made in 1913 of the east and north lobes of the tower, showing the massive crack in the east lobe running from top to bottom
Hand-tinted sketch made in 1913 of the east and north lobes of the tower, showing the massive crack in the east lobe running from top to bottom © Historic England Archives (MP/CLI0033)

Visual Sources

A useful catalogue of the main pictorial sources for Clifford’s Tower and other medieval defences of York has recently been published as B Wilson and F Mee, The City Walls and Castles of York: The Pictorial Evidence (York, 2005). Key images include:

  • 310a [plan of York Castle by Jacob Richards, 1685, showing the bailey buildings and waterworks still in their medieval configuration]
  • 314 [drawing, c 1680, showing the central tower and drawbridge]
  • 316 [drawing by Francis Place, c 1700, – a unique depiction of the interior with ruined masonry from the 1684 fire]
  • 320 [drawing of the castle area, c 1730, showing the Debtors' Prison and the house at the base of the mound]
  • 329b and 330b [engravings of the interior by Joseph Halfpenny, 1807]
  • 360 [photograph, 1880s, with posed children indicating the scale of the stonework in the 1820s retaining wall]
  • 368 [cross-section drawing of the motte and tower, 1902–3]
  • 375 [photograph, 1920s, showing Clifford’s Tower within the walls of the 19th-century prison]
  • 377 [photograph, 1935, showing the reconstruction of the mound in progress].

Plans, Drawings and Photographs in the Historic England Archives

Among the collections in the Historic England Archives are many photographs, plans and drawings relating to Clifford’s Tower. These include:

  • AL0995 [mostly photographic prints and postcards; 1929–85]
  • FL01194 [photographic prints; 1900–32]
  • FL01195 [photographic prints and postcards; 1952–82]
  • MP/CLI [plans, sections, sketches, surveys and photogrammetric elevations, mainly of Clifford’s Tower; 1901–2003]
  • PF/CLI [site plans, elevations and drawings, mainly of Clifford’s Tower; 1902–2003].

Fuller details can be found in the online catalogue. Some material is not yet listed online, including a large collection of aerial photography; for a full search, please contact the Archives search team. Copies of images and documents can be ordered through the website or by contacting the archive; for details of current charges see the price list.

Naturalistic female head carved in stone found at Clifford's Tower
This finely carved and naturalistic female head, of 14th-century date, was found reused to fill an arrow slit in Clifford’s Tower

Material Sources

Excavations since the early 19th century in and around Clifford’s Tower, and within the site of York Castle, have revealed evidence of use and occupation since the Roman period. English Heritage holds:

  • decorated stonework, an iron cannonball and a buckle from Clifford’s Tower from the Ministry of Works clearance and consolidation works to Clifford’s Tower and York Castle in the early 1920s
  • worked stone, tobacco pipes, window glass and lead came, as well as a range of domestic pottery and a wine glass, from York Castle drawbridge pit, to the south of the castle site.

Underpinning works to the south-east area of the mound in 1902 revealed a range of finds, including a Roman cist burial, coins dating from Roman to modern, ceramic vessels from all periods, tools, gaming pieces, personal possessions and animal bone.

Further excavations on the site of York Castle yard in the 1950s revealed a number of high-status Roman burials, in the same area where burials were discovered in 1835. Stone sarcophagi, a lead coffin and grave goods were recovered and placed in the Yorkshire Museum.

Secondary Sources

Benson, G and Platnauer, H, ‘Notes on Clifford’s Tower’, Yorkshire Philosophical Society Report for 1902 (1903), 68–74

Brown, RA, Taylor, AJ and Colvin, HM, The History of the King’s Works, vols 1 and 2: The Middle Ages (London, 1963)

Clark, GT, ‘The defences of York’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 4 (1877), 1–42 [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

Clark, J, Clifford’s Tower (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2010) [buy the guidebook]

Cooper, TP, York: The Story of its Walls, Bars and Castles (York, 1904) [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

Cooper, TP, The History of the Castle of York (London, 1911) [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

Dobson, RB, The Jews of Medieval York and the Massacre of 1190 (York, 1974; rev edn 1996)

Dobson, RB, ‘The medieval York Jewry reconsidered’, in P Skinner (ed), Jews in Medieval Britain: Historical, Literary and Archaeological Perspectives (Woodbridge, 2003), 145–56

Drake, F, Eboracum (York, 1736) [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

Field Archaeology Specialists, 'Clifford's Tower conservation plan’, unpublished report for English Heritage (2006)

Goodall, J, The English Castle (New Haven and London, 2011)

Hislop, M, ‘A missing link: a reappraisal of the date, architectural context and significance of the Great Tower of Dudley Castle’, Antiquaries Journal, 90 (2010), 211–33 [subscription required; accessed 29 Oct 2014]

O'Neil, BH StJ, ‘A note on the date of Clifford's Tower’, Archaeological Journal, 91 (1934), 296–300 [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

O'Neil, BH StJ, ‘Excavations at York Castle, 1935’, Antiquaries Journal, 19 (1939), 85–9 [subscription required; accessed 29 Oct 2014]

Ramm, HG, ‘Roman burials from Castle Yard, York’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 39 (1956–8), 400–18

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York, vol 2: The Defences (London, 1972) [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

Taylor, AJ, ‘The date of Clifford’s Tower, York’, Archaeological Journal, 111 (1954), 153–9 [accessed 29 Oct 2014]

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