Sources for Scarborough Castle

The following lists provide a summary of the main sources for our knowledge and understanding of Scarborough Castle. They do not represent a complete list of all the resources currently available.

One of the plans of the new barracks built in 1746 at Scarborough Castle
A plan of the new barracks at Scarborough Castle built in 1746 © Historic England Archive (MP/SCA0013; copy of TNA WORKS 31/1141)

Primary Sources

The National Archives, Kew

Holds many documents relating to Scarborough Castle (search the National Archives catalogue). Among the most important are:

  • the survey of the castle made in 1538 (TNA, E 36/159), reproduced in A Rowntree (ed), The History of Scarborough (London, 1931), 159–64
  • plans made in the 1740s (WORKS 31/1138–41; see illustration above). 

Chancery and Close Rolls

Scarborough was a royal castle and as such many of the early documents relating to it can be found among the various Chancery Rolls. Most are calendared in published volumes and can be found in larger libraries, and some Chancery Rolls can be viewed online. There is also a useful online guide to the Chancery Rolls.

Other relevant primary sources including the Calendars of Close Rolls can be viewed at British History Online (subscription required). The originals are held by the National Archives.

Published Primary Sources

Anon, A Journey from London to Scarborough (London, 1734)

Binns, J (ed), The Memoirs and Memorials of Sir Hugh Cholmley of Whitby, 1600–57, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 153 (Woodbridge, 2000)

Firth, C (ed), 'Sir Hugh Cholmley's narrative of the siege of Scarborough, 1644–45', English Historical Review, 32 (1917), 568–87 [subscription required; accessed 12 March 2018]

Penney, N (ed), The Journal of George Fox (London, 1924)

Smollett, TG, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker, vol 2 (London, 1771) [several letters from Scarborough dated July 1771] [accessed 28 Sept 2012]

Wittie [Witty], R, Pyrologia Mimica ... In Defence of the Scarbrough-Spaw (London, 1669)

Visual Sources

Good collections of historic images can be found in the most recent English Heritage guidebook (Goodall, 2000); and in H Murray, Scarborough, York and Leeds: The Town Plans of John Cossins, 1697–1743, Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society (York, 1997), which includes the earliest view of about 1530 and plan of 1725.

Historic England Archive

Items in the Historic England Archive at Swindon relating to Scarborough Castle include:

  • copies of plans of the castle and town made in the 1740s, including several of the new barracks built in 1746 (MP/SCA0001–15) (see above)
  • photographs showing repairs to the masonry in progress after the damage caused to the castle during bombardment by the German fleet on 16 December 1914 (FL01032/03)
  • an album of photographs and other archive material, including cuttings, postcards and sketches, relating to both the town and the castle (AL0125)
  • a large collection of drawings of the castle site, mainly 20th-century and including archaeological surveys, but also including copies of 18th- and 19th-century plans and views (PF/SCA).

More details of these and many other items 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 search team.

Copies of images and documents can be ordered through the website or by contacting the archive. For details of current charges for these services see the archive price list.

Civil War shot of various sizes found at Scarborough Castle
Civil War iron, stone and lead shot, found at Scarborough Castle and displayed in the Master Gunner's House

Material Sources

Scarborough Museums Trust, Scarborough

The artefacts excavated by F Gerald Simpson at Scarborough Castle on the site of the Roman signal station during the 1920s are held by Scarborough Museums Trust. The Trust has also acquired the excavation archive notes taken by Simpson and his daughter Grace. 

English Heritage

The display of artefacts from the site in the castle museum, on the first floor of the Master Gunner's House, includes items from the English Heritage collection as well as loan items from Scarborough Museums Trust. The reserve collection and paper-based site archive are held at English Heritage's Helmsley Archaeology Store.

See highlights from the collection 

British Museum

The British Museum holds a Bronze Age sword and pottery discovered in a pit in 1980 by the south-west wall of the medieval King's Hall. Replicas are on display on site. It also holds an example of the Civil War siege coinage.


Secondary Literature

Published Works

Works marked * represent key works in which our understanding was significantly altered, summaries showing the state of knowledge and theories at particular dates, or recent works detailing the latest discoveries.

Baker, J, The History of Scarborough (London, 1882)

*Binns, J, 'Scarborough and the Civil Wars, 1642–51', Northern History, 22 (1986), 95–122

Binns, J, A Place of Great Importance: Scarborough in the Civil Wars 1640–1660 (Preston, 1996)

*Binns, J, 'Scarborough and the Pilgrimage of Grace', Transactions of the Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society, 33 (1997)

Binns, J, Sir Hugh Cholmley of Whitby, 1600–1657 (Pickering, 2008)

Brown, RA, Colvin, HM and Taylor, AJ, The History of the King's Works, vol 2: The Middle Ages (London, 1963), 829–32

Clark, J, 'Scarborough Castle', Archaeological Journal, 154 (1997), 241–7

Crouch, D and Pearson, T (eds), Medieval Scarborough: Studies in Trade and Civic Life (Leeds, 2001)

Douet, E, British Barracks, 1600–1914 (London, 1998)

*Edwards, M (ed), Scarborough 966–1966, Scarborough and District Archaeological Society Research Report 6 (Scarborough, 1966)

*Goodall, J, Scarborough Castle (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2000) [buy the guidebook]

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

Hayfield, C and Pacitto, T, 'Excavation of the great hall or "Kyngeshallle" at Scarborough Castle, North Yorkshire', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 77 (2005), 31–92

Hayfield, C and Pacitto, T, 'Excavation at the barbican and Master Gunner's House at Scarborough Castle, North Yorkshire', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 79 (2007), 195–229

Hinderwell, T, The History and Antiquities of Scarborough (Scarborough, 1811 and 1832) [accessed 28 Sept 2012]

Mould, D, Remember Scarborough 1914! (Nelson, 1978)

Page, W (ed), 'The borough of Scarborough', in Victoria County History: York: North Riding, vol 2 (London, 1923), 538–60 [accessed 28 Sept 2012]

Pearson, T, The Archaeology of Medieval Scarborough: Excavation and Research 1987–2004, Scarborough and District Archaeological Society Research Report 12 (Scarborough, 2005)

Pearson, T, Scarborough: A History (Chichester, 2009)

Robertson, A, Scarborough: The First Thousand Years (Brighton, 1966)

*Rowntree, A (ed), The History of Scarborough (London, 1931)

Whittaker, M, The Book of Scarborough Spaw (Buckingham, 1984)

*Wilson, PR, 'Aspects of the Yorkshire signal stations', in Roman Frontier Studies 1989, Proceedings of the XVth International Congress on Roman Frontier Studies, eds VA Maxfield and MJ Dobson (Exeter, 1991), 142–7

Unpublished Reports

Many of these reports can be downloaded from the Historic England Research Reports database.

David, A and Bray, E, 'Inner bailey, Scarborough Castle, N Yorkshire: report of geophysical survey, July 1998', AML Reports (New Series) 56/1998, University of York for English Heritage (1998)

Grenville, J, Clark, J and Giles, K, 'Scarborough Castle and Headland conservation plan: Parts 1A & 1B – understanding the site', University of York for English Heritage (1999)

Pearson, T, 'Scarborough Castle, North Yorkshire: survey report', Archaeological Investigation Report Series AI/11/1999, English Heritage (1999)

Scarborough Castle, 'Scarborough North Yorkshire, geophysical surveys', Archaeological Services, Durham University report 2378, April 2010

Weinstock, J, 'The animal bone remains from Scarborough Castle, North Yorkshire', CfA Report 21/2002, English Heritage (2002)

Wilthew, P, 'Examination of technological material from Scarborough Castle, Yorkshire', AML Reports (old series) 4280, English Heritage (undated)