There is the slightest of possibilities that Skipton castle was commenced during or soon after King William I
(1066-87) set about his Harrying of the North in 1069-70. The
castle commanded one of the few routes through the Pennines and guarded
the Roman road from Ribchester to York, Skipton standing halfway between that city and Lancaster.
By Domesday in 1086 the vill of Skipton was held by the king and was
recorded as waste when he acquired it and still waste in 1086.
The wasting of the vill may have occurred during the Harrying.
Attached to Skipton in 1086 were multiple other vills mainly along the
valley of the Aire which would go on to form the barony of Skipton in
Craven in the twelfth century. These were Addingham, Anley [n'r
Settle, held by Roger Poitou from the king], Beamsley, Bolton [Abbey],
Coniston [Cold], Draughton, Embsay, Gargrave, Halton [East], Hanlith,
Hellifield, [High and Low] Skibeden, Holme [House], [Little] Stainton,
[Low] Snaygill, Malham, Otterburn [held by Roger Poitou from the king],
Scosthorp [held by Roger Poitou from the king] and Thorlby. Many
of these lands had been held by Earl Edwin in 1066 and no doubt many
were until his death in 1071, even if they had been wasted in 1069-70.
These places around Skipton probably remained in the hands of King William
and his 2 kingly successor sons until 1102 when they were infeudated to
a man called Robert Romiley in the aftermath of the Belleme
rebellion. It was probably he, who in the early years of King Henry I's reign, founded Skipton castle, although it has been argued that William Rufus (1087-1100) created the barony for Romiley in 1092 or soon after when he conquered Cumberland. However, there is no evidence to support this view other than other baronies, viz Barnard Castle, Bywell, Mitford and Prudhoe
may also have been founded at this time. These castles were all
well north and east of the Pennines, while Skipton was to the south and
well within the boundaries of Rufus' England which had been pushed
north to Carlisle in 1092. Romiley may also have been handed the castle at Buckton on the disinheritance of Earl Roger Poitou (d.1123) in 1102. Earl Roger Poitou (d.1123) had been lord of much of Lancaster
as well as a great landholder throughout the north of England. He
had also held 2 of the lands in the new Skipton lordship at
Domesday. This might again argue for a post 1102 foundation of
Skipton lordship and castle. Robert's provenance is discussed
under Buckton castle
At first glance it appears that Skipton castle is first mentioned after the Great Heathen Army defeated the English at York.
Then it was recorded that Archbishop Wulfhere of York (854-900) fled to
Addingham in 867. As an aside it was then noted that this was in
Warfedale, between Otley and Skipton castle (castellum de Scipetun).
Quite obviously the castle was merely there in c.1130 when this history
was written up and this fact was used to tell the everyday reader where
the little known Addingham, a member of Skipton barony, was. By
the 1140s the castle constable was one Ivo Alspath. It would seem
likely that the castle fell to William Fitz Duncan (d.1152/54), the
heir to the Scottish throne, in the late 1130s, possibly after the
battle of Clitheroe on 10 June
1138. The castle was certainly in existence, and probably in the
hands of Fitz Duncan by 1151 when Symeon's chronicle noted:
And then the king [David] with his army confirmed William Fitz Duncan, his nephew, in the honour of Skipton and Craven (Sciptun et Crafna) and broke into the small fortress that had been built by the enemy and destroyed it after ejecting the knights.
A chaplain was resident in Skipton castle during the time of Alice
Romiley (d.1187) ‘sometime lady of Skipton castle' as recorded on
5 October 1323 when it was noted that he was allowed a quarter of wheat
every 12 weeks and a mark yearly at Christmas for a new robe.
All of this evidence flies in the face of the throwaway remark in
Holinshed, writing in 1577-87, that the widowed daughter [Hawise Aumale (d.1214)] of Earl
William le Gros of Aumale (d.1179), the onetime lord of Scarborough castle,
William Fortibus [d.1195], who finished Skipton
castle, which his wife's father had begun in the time of King Richard I.
However, as is shown below, there is no evidence that Earl William of
Aumale (d.1179) had ever held Skipton castle, let alone that the castle
had been begun in the reign of Richard I
(1189-99) by the earl who had been dead 10 years, or that it was
finished by William Fortibus (d.1195), or even his son, another Earl
William (d.1241), as is sometimes claimed on the basis of the
‘knowledge' of Holishend, written some 400 years after the events
it purported to record. Consequently this ‘evidence' should
be totally disregarded as the foundationless hearsay it undoubtedly
is. Instead it is reasonably clear that Skipton castle was
founded by Robert Romiley, probably in or very soon after he received
the ‘honour of Skipton' in late 1102.
On Robert's death, before 1120, his lands were divided between his 2
daughters. The eldest was presumably Lucy who may have received
the Norman lands of her father. In the period 1181-89, King Henry II
confirmed her, her husband's and her son in law's gifts to Aunay sur
Oden abbey which she and her husband, Jordan Say, had founded on 15
July 1131. These lands of Jordan Say (d.bef.1151) and Lucy
(d.1156+) his wife, as confirmed by their son in law, Richard Hommet
(d.1181) and his wife, Agnes [Say], included the place in which Aunay
abbey was founded. Amongst the many other places mentioned were
Remilly sur Lozon (Rumilleio) as well as the English churches of Kirtlington (Curtintona) and Bicester (Bernecestriae) and the chapel of Gylva/Giuva. Lucy had also given a meadow in Bauquay (Baucheio).
Unfortunately, other than helping with the Romiley, Say and Hommet
genealogies, this does not help with deciding whether Remilly was
originally a Romiley or Say holding. In any case, the probably
younger daughter, Cecily Romiley (d.1151/55), inherited the lordship of
Skipton, taking it to her husband, William Meschin (d.1130/34), the
lord of Egremont and younger brother of Earl Ranulf of Chester
On William's death Skipton passed to his son, Ranulf Meschin, who died
before 1138, the fortress then passing to his sister, who called
herself Alice Romiley (d.1187). She was married to William Fitz
Duncan (d.1152/54), the nephew of King David of Scotland (d.1153) and
one time heir apparent to the Scottish throne. As the marriage
seems to have taken place in or before 1138, William assumed command of
the 2 English baronies immediately on the death of his brother in law,
Ranulf Meschin. While Norham castle was under siege by King
David, an event that occurred after Easter (3 April 1138), William Fitz
Duncan penetrated as far south as Furness abbey (Futhernesse) and Craven (Carfna)
which he laid waste by fire and by sword. Soon after this he
commanded the Anglo-Scottish forces against the Stephanic knights at the
battle of Clitheroe on 10 June 1138. It would seem likely that for this action he was operating from Skipton, just under 20 miles from Clitheroe. The Scottish forces then marched north to Carlisle. Some 2 months after Clitheroe the Scottish army was routed at the battle of the Standard on August 1138, but William Fitz Duncan is not recorded as being there.
In the aftermath of the battle King Stephen, on 9 April 1139, allowed King David the lands he had conquered, viz Northumberland apart from Bamburgh and Newcastle on Tyne castles and the bishopric of Durham with Hexham. Although his gains in Cumberland,
Yorkshire and Lancashire were not named in the chronicle, King David
was obviously allowed to keep these too. This obviously included
William Fitz Duncan's inheritance of Egremont
and Skipton as the husband of Alice Romiley. Certainly by the
time of the rout of Winchester in 1141, David had ordered his men of
Lancashire to allow the monks of Shrewsbury abbey to freely hold their
half of Bispham (just north of Blackpool and 26 miles west of Clitheroe
and 42 miles west of Skipton) and Kirkham (between Blackpool and
Preston, 38 miles west-south-west of Skipton) in Lancashire. This
clearly indicated his control of the county as too did his occupation
of Preston or Tulketh castle on the north bank of the Ribble. At
the same time David managed to acquire Newcastle and Bamburgh castles and continued to push south, occupying Durham and threatening York. This threat was ended in 1149 when King Stephen
replenished his garrison there and forced David and his allies to
withdraw from their planned assault on the city. For the price of
his support against King Stephen,
Earl Ranulf of Chester (d.1153/4) had been granted the land between
Ribble and Mersey that he had claimed as his inheritance from his
Meanwhile, virtually nothing is known of William Fitz Duncan's tenure
of Skipton, other than he and King David had to expel various knights
from a castle in the district as late as 1151.
And then the king [David] with his army confirmed William Fitz Duncan, his nephew, in the honour of Skipton and Craven (Sciptun et Crafna) and broke into a small fortress that had been built by the enemy and destroyed it after ejecting the knights.
Quite clearly from this there was still some dispute in the region which may have involved Buckton castle
some 20 miles to the south. This, of course, was despite the fact
that William had ‘died in 1147' according to the execrable Wikipedia.
William may have survived until 1153, but was last heard of with
certainty in 1151 when he was at least 56. His lands then passed
to his son and heir, William Egremont.
William Egremont died, still under age, in 1163 as a ward of King Henry II
(1154-89). Although it is not certain what happened at Skipton
during his minority, this and his other lands were almost certainly
administered by his step-father, Alexander Fitz Gerold (d.1178).
In 1166 Alexander was recorded as holding the fee of Skipton and his
knights' fees were counted at 12 old fees and 8 new, post 1135
ones. This suggests that the honour of Skipton had increased in
size during the wars of King Stephen
After and apparently in some cases before Alexander's death around June
1178, his wife's lands, each having a castle as their caput, Cockermouth, Egremont and Skipton, were parcelled out amongst her daughters. The eldest, Amabil (d.bef.1190), had Egremont
and took this to her husband, Reginald Lucy (d.1200). The second,
Cecily (d.1188+), had Skipton and took that to her husband, Earl
William Le Gros of Aumale, who could therefore at most have held the
castle for much less than year before his death on 20 August
1179. The youngest, Alice (d.1215) had only half of Allerdale,
which reverted to her sisters when she died childless. Skipton
and Cockermouth passed to William and
Cecily's children, William (d.1196) and finally Hawise (d.1214).
Hawise had been born before 1165 and on 14 January 1179 had married
Earl William Mandeville of Essex (d.1189) at Pleshey castle.
The young earl of Essex was simultaneously made earl of Aumale even
though the current earl was still alive and had a son. Perhaps
this was a quid pro quo for Earl William le Gros (d.1179) acquiring
Skipton and Cockermouth.
Earl William of Essex and Aumale died on 14 November 1189 at Gisors
and the next year Hawise married William Fortibus of Oleron.
Richard of Devizes obviously did not like what he heard for he
describes her as ‘the widow, female, but almost a man, who lacked
nothing manly except manhood, with all honour was married to William
Fortibus, a knight a thousand times proved in arms, with all honour by
the gift of King Richard'.
In this manner Fortibus inherited his wife's title and paid £6
scutage on Skipton for 12 fees and £10 [for 20 fees] for the fee
of Aumale in Yorkshire, although he was only described as William Forz
and not earl of Aumale. Despite this, he made a charter as Earl
William Forz of Aumale to Pontefract
priory confirming the gift of Alice Romiley (d.1187), his wife's
grandmother. Before his death Hawise bore him her only son and
heir, another William Forz (d.1241). She then married Baldwin
Bethune the same year, making him earl of Aumale. On his death in
October 1212 she fined for 5,000m (£3,333 6s 8d) to have seisin
of her own lands and not to have need to remarry. Of this sum she
immediately paid £1,000, although death overtook her before she
could pay more of the £2,333 6s 8d still owing. With the
county of Aumale lost, Aumale became an empty title, like the earldom
of York. Despite this, Earl William Forz of Aumale (d.1241) remained a power in the land with his castles of Cockermouth, Skipsea and Skipton.
The new earl of Aumale remained loyal to the government of Henry III
(1216-72), but disliked some of their policies, like the return of
royal castles to government control from the constableship of the
professional soldiers to whom king John (d.1216) had assigned them.
William himself held 2 of these castles, Rockingham
and Sauvey. He also showed himself capable of upsetting the
machinery of government in attempting to overturn the findings of the
itinerant justices in Lincolnshire in 1218. The next year, 1219,
it was the turn of the sheriff of Yorkshire to state that he could not
perform his business in the wapentake of Staincliff due to the attitude
of the earl. In May 1220 a formal campaign was nearly launched
against Earl William before he returned the royal castles of Sauvey and
Rockingham to the king.
Despite all of this, in 1221 Earl William made a half-hearted attempt
at revolt. Consequently, on 3 February 1221, the king ordered the
sheriff of Lancaster, with Constable John Lacy of Chester
(d.1240), Ruald Fitz Alan (d.1247) and Richard Percy (d.1244) to
besiege Skipton in Craven castle. To put this in perspective the
sheriff of Westmorland, Robert Vipont [Appleby & Brougham], Roger M'lay, William Lancaster [Kendal], Thomas Multon [Egremont], Roger Montbegon (of Hornby castle, d.1226), Roger Bertram [Mitford], Richard Umfraville [Prudhoe], Hugh Bolebec, Robert Vaux (d.1237) and Adam Jeland, the senior lord of the bishop of Durham, were ordered to attack Cockermouth castle. Similarly the sheriff of York was ordered to attack Skipsea castle with Robert Roos [Helmsley], Peter Bruce (d.1222), John Fitz Robert [Warkworth],
Ranulf Fitz Robert (d.1252), Nicholas Stuteville (d.1233) and William
Mowbray (d.1224). Despite the apparent lack of forces directed
towards Skipton, the campaign was rapidly brought to a close with the
fall of Bytham castle, although no fighting
seems to have taken place elsewhere. On 16 May 1223, the
government wrote that the knights of the honour of Lancaster had been on royal service at Skipton in Craven with the constable of Chester when the Bytham
expedition took place, so they were quit of any scutage payable for the
campaign. Skipton in any case remained with the earls of Aumale,
even if they did loose Bytham to the king.
The honour of Skipton remained in the hands of the next 2 Earl
William's father (d.1241), son (d.1260), but not his grandson
(d.bef.1269) who never reached majority. Instead the castle and
honour of Skipton passed to the Crown in 1260, initially in custody for
Earl William's young heirs. By April 1269 his only surviving
daughter, Aveline Aumale (d.1274), received the rest of his estates, Cockermouth, Skipsea and Skipton, when she married Prince Edmund, the younger brother of the future Edward I (1272-1307). In the meantime the Crown seized both Skipton and Cockermouth
castles on 20 June 1260, when the king ordered both constables to
deliver the castles to William le Latymer, when the constables were
‘commanded to take into the king's hands all the lands in his
bailiwick late of Earl William Fortibus of Aumale, tenant in chief,
deceased'. There can be no doubt that this was done as his
children were underage. On 25 July 1262, Prince Edward (d.1307)
was in control of the castle and honour, although it was clear that King Henry III (1216-72), or at least his government, was actually closely involved in the running of the barony.
After a minority of 9 years, during which her 2 remaining brothers,
Thomas and William, died, Amice Aumale (born 20 January 1259) was
married to Prince Edmund of Cornwall on 11 April 1269, taking all the
surviving Aumale estates to him. On her death just 5 years later
at the age of 15, the king acquired the Aumale baronies from her
mother, the dowager Isabella Redvers (1237-93), the widow of Earl
William of Aumale (d.1260). King Edward
was still in charge of ‘Skipton, once held by the earl of Aumale
and now in the king's hand' on 20 January 1280. The castle must
have been relatively well maintained for no evidence has been found for
any royal expenditure on it.
On 11 May 1309, King Edward II
(1307-27) granted custody of various Yorkshire lands which had fallen
into the king's hands, including the castle of Skipton in Craven and
the manor of Burstwick [Skipsea], to Piers
Gaveston and Margaret his wife, the king's own niece, confirming a
grant that had been made before 4 August 1308. Immediately before
this, the king had ordered a whole slew of royal castles fortified and
guarded as late as 6 April 1308, once of which was Skipton. This
shows that the castle was thought of as defensible at this time.
The many gifts of King Edward to Piers were surrendered back to the
Crown on 5 August 1309. These included the castles of Knaresborough, Skipton, Peak, Cockermouth and Carisbrook. In exchange for these the king granted him the earldom of Cornwall with its castle of Lydford as well as the castles of Exeter, Wallingford, Mere and Berkhamsted.
By 15 September 1309, the king had granted out Skipton and its
wapentake to Earl Henry Lacy of Lincoln for 40m (£30) pa.
Then, on 16 March 1310, the king granted in fee to Robert Clifford, the
lord of Appleby, Brough and Brougham, the castle of Skipton with its land worth £100 pa in exchange for lands in Monmouth and Hodenak in Gwent and for Robert performing the services for the lordship that the earl of Aumale used to do.
Robert was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn in June 1314 and the
next month an inquest was undertaken in his barony of Skipton.
This found that the barony was held in chief by the service of
11½ knights' fees and that within the castle was a free chapel
of St John the Evangelist, as well as 2 water mills, a park by the
castle, a court for knights and a wood called Lobbewith. The
surrounding lands were recorded as Holme, Skibden, Siglesden, Thorleby,
Holden, Calder and Howe alias Hawe as well as The Forest with lodges
called Drabley, Berden, Land ...., Gamylswath, Holgyll and Ungayne, a
meadow in Hardhyngges and hamlets called Crokerys and Elsawe. The
castle and lordship then remained in the hands of the Cliffords until
the death of John Clifford at the battle of Towton. Skipton
castle was then granted to William Stanley who exchanged it for Chirk castle,
allowing Skipton to pass to Duke Richard of Gloucester, later Richard
III (1483-85). After his death at the battle of Bosworth in
August 1485, Henry Clifford was restored to the family estates.
It is thought that after Henry Clifford (d.1542) was made earl of
Cumberland in 1525 he upgraded Skipton castle, adding the Long Galley
and the Octagonal tower by 1535 and making the place more palace than
fortress. Despite this, it was hastily fortified and garrisoned
by the royalists in 1642, which resulted in a brief December
siege. Free from attack for the next 3 years the castle finally
surrendered on 21 December 1645. In 1648 it was reoccupied by
royalists and on its fall was then slighted with the order given to
reduce the height of its walls by a third.
In 1657 the castle's owner, Lady Anne Clifford (1589-1676), gained
parliament's permission to rebuild the castle as long as it was not
made defensible with any new walls, while any roofs were to be made too
weak to carry cannon. Work continued on the castle until in 1659
when she planted the current yew tree in the centre of the court to
mark its completion. Her work included the new, weak tops to the
towers and the square tower in front of the gatehouse. The castle
remains largely as she left it.
The castle is set hard against the cliff falling to the north 100' down
to the fast running Eller Beck which runs southwards into the River
Aire which eventually runs eastwards to the River Humber. Before
the castle to the south lies the medieval town of Skipton.
Of the castle earthworks all that can be seen are the clear remains of
200' of ditch and rampart running under the modern A6131 [visible in
the photo below] and curving towards the west. This lies some 80'
beyond the line of the outer ward curtain that appears to have run
south from the octagonal tower of the long gallery range added to the
east front of the castle inner ward. Possibly this largely
collapsed rampart and semi filled ditch was part of a town
The Outer Ward
Running alongside the north side of the A6131 is a ‘modern' wall
which plainly contains reused parts of the old castle. This is
now the fortress enclosing wall to all sides but the north where the
river is. The most interesting feature of this is the 20'
diameter D shaped tower [above]. This appears to lack
foundations, judging by the angle it leans out from the wall, and
consists of 3 distinct masonry types which are almost certainly
contemporaneous, if very different in style. At the base is a
finely laid, rough ashlar of at least 5 courses, lacking any
plinth. Directly above this are 2 laid courses of ashlar followed
by a chamfered plinth, 2 further courses of ashlar and a further
chamfered plinth course with a roll moulded projection at its
base. Above this is a further 2 courses of ashlar masonry and
then the rest consists of a well laid rubble which takes the tower up
to its full height of 15'. It would seem likely that the ashlar
courses of this are stripped from some other part of the castle and
reassembled here. The same is true for the poor quality
overhanging garderobe with 2 fine corbels just west of this tower.
From the D shaped tower the ‘modern curtain' runs westwards to
the main gatehouse - an unusual structure, now free standing.
This is a 35' square gatetower with 4 boldly projecting 25' diameter
towers at the angles. As such it compares only with the main
gatehouse at Stirling castle
in Scotland. At the base it has a similar twin plinth to the D
shaped tower, but no rough ashlar base. Above the upper
projecting plinth course are some 20 courses of ashlar making up 2
storeys. Above this is an obviously Lady Clifford rebuild as too
would appear to be the gate archways. Probably the lower courses
of the gatehouse are fourteenth century, although they may even be
fifteenth. Attached to the north-west tower is a possibly later
circular stair turret.
Within the current outer ward the only feature of note is the chapel to
the west, surrounded by later buildings. Some 150' within the
ward stands the boldly projecting south tower of the inner ward.
The inner ward is an angular D shape with the hall and main buildings
built along the straight north side and covered by the river cliff to
the north and the castle inner ward enceinte on the other 3 sides.
The Inner Ward Gatehouse
The inner ward was entered by an early twin towered gatehouse
which is now grossly disfigured by Lady Anne's approach tower.
The original structure consists of 2 D shaped towers 30' in
diameter. Between them was a gate passageway, whose outer portion
was much altered by Lady Anne when the new approach tower was
built. The exterior portion of the entrance is undoubtedly
seventeenth century, including a stair vice built into the north-west
corner of the south tower which gives access to the upper storey of the
approach tower. At the interior end of the passageway are a
portcullis and 2 apparently Romanesque arches. Of these only the
first apparently carried defensive gates. Further, the first arch
of 3 rebated orders has semi-octagonal jambs rising to fine fifteenth
century style capitals, while the Romanesque arches are more a third of
a circle than a half round. Finally, the rear, external wall is
likely a seventeenth century rebuild, although it should be noted the
rear of the gatehouse arch at Tickhill is
somewhat similar to that at Skipton, but not so much the interior sides
other Romanesque entrance arches. The nearest in style to Skipton
gatehouse would appear to be Exeter castle
gatehouse, but even here, with its projecting capitals, the arch is
semi-circular and not merely a third round. The same is true of the
chevron decorated, portcullis protected Colchester and Rochester keep entrances, as well as that at Hedingham
keep. In short, there is nothing in Skipton gate passageway that
may be original. Even the portcullis grooves are suspect, set as
they are in the last third of the gate passageway and ‘operated'
from a chamber most certainly modified in the seventeenth century and
showing no evidence of ever having housed the portcullis lifting
mechanism, cf the interesting portcullis mechanism slots at Goodrich castle. Also the portcullis is more normally set at the front of a gate passageway, unless there was also one at the front.
Externally and internally the 2 gatetowers are far from normal.
The projecting portions of the towers are no more than a quarter round,
rather than boldly projecting as most gatehouses of this type
are. Perhaps the nearest gatehouses to this are the Constable's
Tower at Dover and the main gatehouse at Grosmont, although Skipton has been compared to the much altered barbican gatehouses at Helmsley.
At Skipton the chambers within the towers are most irregular. The
southern chamber seems to have been totally rebuilt and has embrasures,
plus an unnatural stair up through the south-east curtain.
Clearly this is all a late modification. The northern tower may
have more original features, certainly it has 2 ground floor Romanesque
embrasures. The curtain north of it is certainly not original as
it totally blocks the north loop. The stairs to the back of the
tower also appear to be much more modern creations. Those running
down to the ‘dungeon' are certainly an insertion. If this
cellar with inserted vault is anything it might just be the remains of
an original drawbridge pit. On the ground level the doorways are
Romanesque, but then again, so are those in the cellar. Of the
upper floor the furnishings in the south tower again seem totally
rebuilt, while those of the north tower are at best suspect, the
entrance via the stairs certainly being a rebuild. There was a
central mural stair from this northern level leading to the upper floor
which was apparently demolished in the civil war. Theoretically
this floor would have contained the constable's chamber assuming that
any of this is early medieval.
The D shaped gatetowers are faced in a fine ashlar with a sloping
plinth of at least 12 courses over a chamfered external offset. A
similar chamfered offset occurs between ground and first floor
level. It seems likely that all the ashlar work is seventeenth
century, as too are the crossbow loops and windows, although just
possibly the singular surviving ground floor loop in the north tower is
original. As a similar style of ashlar graces the other towers of
the enceinte it seems logical to assume that all the ashlar, virtually
unworn, is seventeenth century work.
The Inner Ward
The rest of the medieval castle can be covered in short shrift.
Three great round towers over 30' in diameter make up the rest of the
enceinte with short stretches of curtain wall between them. The
south tower is the largest and has the most pronounced
projection. This no doubt accounts for it having been dubbed the
Watchtower. Like the gatehouse it is much rebuilt, but the
chamfered first floor offset seems to mark a transition between
medieval and seventeenth century work. A similar transition can
be seen in the curtain east of the tower, but much lower down, the
seventeenth century work having much more red sandstone in it.
The next tower east has been cut down to curtain level and shows a
similar state of rebuilding as its neighbour. Under the
seventeenth century windows in these towers are remnants of the
original long, oilletless loops. From this tower the curtain ran
north to the north-east tower which is now encased in the later works
which run along the cliff edge to the octagonal tower.
The north-east tower appears to have been roughly the same size as the
Watchtower, but has a curved mural passageway running around its north
side leading to a rectangular garderobe turret overhanging the
gorge. Possibly this was the keep of the castle. A castle
with large round towers making up the ward similarly to this exists at Alnwick and possibly also at Cilgerran. During renovations of the castle 5 early pennies of Edward I minted at London, Bristol, Lincoln, Berwick on Tweed
and Dublin were found in the drawbar slot of this tower. The
coins, dated to 1285 to 1300, suggests that the castle towers were
standing before 1307 when such Edwardian coins would have been
withdrawn and reissued as coins of Edward II. Therefore it
appears unlikely that any of the medieval castle was the work of Robert
Clifford (lord of Skipton from 1310 to 1314) and his descendants as is
so regularly proclaimed.
Paul Martin Remfry