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Cliffords Tower, York

Cliffords Tower, from the South East
Cliffords Tower, from the west
Cliffords Tower, detail of the entrance


A intersting example of a motte and bailey castle, the mound being the remains of a wooden castle built by William I around 1068 with the four-lobed stone keep replacing the wooden structure in the 13th Century. It has a commanding view of the Vale of York and guarded the approaches to the city from the River Ouse - a major artery in medieval times.

It was also the site, on 16th March 1190 of a massacre of the Jewish comunity in York at that time. The antisemitism stirred up by the crusades caused the Jewish people of York to take refuge in the castle in March which was then besieged by a mob led by the Sherrif Richard Malebys (or Malebisse), who was in debt to the Jewish money lenders. When supplies ran short they Jews decided that to surrender meant death so chose to take their own lives and those who did not die, were killed by the mob when it stormed the burning ramparts. A plaque at the foot of the present steps commemorates 150 men and women who died that night.


Tower Street, York,UK. March 2005 & March 2006.

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