Admission Adults £5.00 children £3.00
William the Conqueror built the first established castle here. When William the Conqueror marched north in 1068 to suppress a rebellion against his rule, he built a series of castles as he went, the first being this Norman motte-and-bailey in York.
The castle saw several violent times during its earliest years, including revolts and an attack by Danish invaders. As the times and political situation settled down in the 1070s, the damage of the earlier years was repaired, and the castle, built mostly of earth and timber, survived unaltered through most of the 12th century.
In 1190 the castle of York was the setting for a notorious even, the mass suicide and massacre of York’s Jewish community.
Tensions between Christians and Jews had been increasing throughout England during the 12th century, partly because many people owed money to Jewish moneylenders and partly because a lot of propaganda was directed against Muslims and Jews. Anti-Jewish riots in several cities followed the coronation of the crusader king Richard I in 1189, and a untrue rumour was put about that Richard I had ordered a massacre of the Jews.
About 150 people from the Jewish community were given protective custody in the royal castle, Clifford’s Tower. Trust between the royal officials and the Jews broke down, finding themselves shut out of the tower the officials summoned reinforcements to recapture it. The troops were joined by a large mob, which soon ran out of control.
On 16 March, the eve of the Sabbath before Passover, the Jews realised that there would be no safe way out for them, the rabbi urged his fellow Jews in the tower to commit suicide rather than fall into the hands of their persecutors. Heads of house killed their own families before killing themselves, and the wooden tower itself was set on fire.
A number of Jews did survive and came out of the tower under an amnesty, but were murdered by the attackers.
Some say that the red marks on the inner walls is the blood of these poor innocent people.
The tower is reached by climbing 55 steps up the side of the hill, once inside you can climb to the top of the tower which has some lovely views over the city.
Worth a look but it really only need about 30 minutes to see the lot.