Yorkshire Castles, Ruins and Historical Heritage

Bring the past to life in Yorkshire’s castles, ruins and religious sites.

Yorkshire’s castles and ruins hide a wealth of history along with a little mystery. Wander through magnificent World Heritage Sites or into quiet crumbling monasteries to get a sense of how lives were led hundreds of years ago.

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Castles and Ruins

Perhaps the greatest way to experience this is to explore Yorkshire’s diverse heritage sites.


  • Scarborough Castle. With over 2,500 years of turbulent history behind it, Scarborough Castle defends a prominent headland between two bays, with sheer drops to the sea.
  • Helmsley Castle. Explore the castle’s changing fortunes. From formidable fortress to battle-scarred ruins.
  • Conisbrough Castle has a 90ft-high great white circular keep, constructed in 1180AD, with six buttresses, and is the oldest surviving of its type in England.
  • Skipton Castle, guardian of the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales for over 900 years, is a unique fortress and one of the most complete and well-preserved medieval castles in England. Standing on a 40-metre high crag.
  • Middleham Castle‘s massive Keep is one of the largest in England and the castle was the childhood home of Richard III. Previously serving as a defensive building and self-contained residence.
  • Richmond Castle offers stunning views over the Yorkshire Dales, overlooking the River Swale and pretty market town of Richmond.  
  • Ripley Castle, situated 3 miles from Harrogate in North Yorkshire, is an historic attraction open to the public all year round. A beautiful location with memorable surroundings, the castle also plays host to numerous events throughout the year including Archery, Falconry, a Classic Car Rally and various concerts and plays.
  • Bolton Castle is a spectacular medieval fortress, situated in the heart of Wensleydale.


  • Roche Abbey in South Yorkshire is beautifully set in a valley landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th century. 
  • Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire is one of the most complete and impressive abbeys in Britain. Explore the atmospheric ruins, which are surrounded by stunning moorland, and visit the interactive museum to explore 900 years of history and view unique archaeological finds.
  • Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal is Yorkshire’s finest Cistercian Abbey ruin, with over 10 historic buildings, spanning over 800 years of history.
  • Bolton Abbey. The historic Bolton Abbey Estate is the Yorkshire home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and draws visitors to its breath-taking landscape and excellent facilities.
  • Whitby Abbey. The moody and magnificent ruins of Whitby Abbey have drawn successive generations – from Saints to Dracula – to this site of settlement and religious devotion.

To discover more historic attractions in Yorkshire, use our attractions search.

Historical military re-enactments bring Yorkshire’s past to life, whether it is a display of knights battling it out on horseback, a Viking parade or a lesson in medieval cookery. Why not take a look at Yorkshire’s Military Heritage sites.

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