Scarborough Castle - What a view!
by Ian Dobson - Reservations
The present castle, under the care of English Heritage, masks an amazing history stretching back nearly 3000 years to when it began as an Iron Age fort. Romans, Vikings, Kings and both sides in the English Civil War have all shown an interest in the intervening years which is one of the reasons that the castle is a major tourist attraction in North Yorkshire.
Following being under Roman occupation and then being a Viking settlement, main references to the town and castle come in the reign of Henry II. The beginnings of the castle were founded on a royal manor by William le Gros in the 1130’s but passed into the hands of the Crown when Henry II acceded to the throne. It was then developed into a royal stronghold over two centuries.
During the English Civil War, the castle changed hands more than once with Sir Hugh Cholmley, mentioned in a previous blog, figuring heavily in this. From 1642, Scarborough Castle became a Royalist stronghold and was used to control shipping . The interception of ships caused serious coal shortages in London and perhaps helped towards the reinstatement of the Crown.
In December 1914, during the opening months of the First World War, two German warships fired more than 500 shells on the town and castle from the bay. Seventeen civilians were killed and more than 80 seriously wounded. The Ministry of Works took state ownership in 1920 and demolished the parts damaged by the bombardment.
English Heritage took over in 1984 and the present castle is now very popular with visitors. They can learn about the history, eat in the Master Gunner’s House and buy souvenirs from the shop.
Well worth a visit!