“ The remains of an 11th Century Norman Castle in East Yorkshire now in the care of English Heritage . „
The landscape of the East Yorkshire coast is quite dramatic in many places, characterised by its sheer limestone cliffs, which centuries of coastal erosion have left numerous building precariously close to the edge of, but just a few metres inland from those cliffs the ground is very flat, fertile and green. At just 11 metres high the round grassy mound of earth on which Skipsea Castle once stood is actually one of the highest points above sea level and thus can be seen from many miles afar.
Skipsea Castle can be found about 8 miles south of Bridlington, where it is accessed via the B1242 minor road from Skipsea village. The castle can only be reached via a footpath that leads off this road but its only a short walk and the footpath is nice and flat.
The first thing that you'll notice about Skipsea Castle is that there is no castle, not even a small ruin or a pile of stones. There's a couple of information placards showing an artist's impression of what the castle once looked like, but other than that things are left pretty much to your own imagination. In fact even when you reach the foot of the mound you'll see that all that now remains of the structure are the earthworks. Yet historians tell us that this was once one of the finest and most important castles in the region. Built shortly after the Norman Conquest in the final years of the 11th century its principal purpose was to defend the land from any Viking ships that might appear on the horizon of the North Sea.
Standing on top of the mound there is a fantastic view in all directions. I visited on a fine day but it was a bit windy, still it was well worth the steep scramble to the top just to enjoy the view. Originally this mound (or motte) stood in the middle of a large lake called Skipsea Mere and the castle was reached via a wooden footbridge. Nowadays there's no sign of any lake and the fields that surround it are now set aside as agricultural land with crops and cows, although these fields are still prone to flooding during the wintertime and following severe floods that struck this region in 2007 the whole area flooded, leaving the mound completely surrounded by water as it would have originally been centuries earlier.
Skipsea Castle was destroyed during the 13th century on the order of King Henry 111 but prior to that it was the home of the Lords of Holderness, having been built by the first Lord, Drogo de Beauvriere, who was a cousin of William the Conqueror. In 1102 a chapel was constructed adjacent to the castle, but this and the castle were both abandoned around 1200 when the Lords of Holderness moved to a nearby manor house.
Access to Skipsea Castle is free of charge but there is very limited parking close to where the footpath starts (only room for 2 cars) so it is often easier to park in Skipsea village and walk from there. The site is in now in the care of English Heritage.
East Riding of Yorkshire