History

 

At the time of the Norman Conquest Flamborough was a small but profitable settlement owned by Harold Godwinson (Harold II) and, after his death at the Battle of Hastings, it was re-allocated. However, it was later ravished during William I's 'Harrying of the North' with the value of the manor falling from £24 in 1066 to a mere £0.5 at the time of the Domesday survey of 1086. At some point thereafter it became the property of the Constables of Holderness and it is possible they built an earth and timber castle on the site during the eleventh or twelfth century. Certainly a residence belonging to the Constable was recorded on the site in the period 1180 to 1193. The next record relating to the site dates from 1315 when Edward II granted William, Constable of Holderness a licence to build an oratory (chapel).

 

William's descendants adopted the surname Constable and grew into a powerful local family. As their status increased so did the need for a family seat which reflected their social standing and it was this that probably prompted the development of Flamborough Castle. In 1351 Edward III granted Marmaduke Constable a licence to crenellate (fortify) and it was probably around this time that construction of the tower started. Marmaduke may also have been fortifying a second residence, possibly located just 500 metres to the south at the site now occupied by Flamborough Beacon Farm, as a second licence to crenellate was granted just nine months after the first.

 

The rectangular Tower was built from locally quarried, roughly coursed, chalk blocks. The ground floor consisted of a vaulted basement and there were at least two storeys above that which were most probably used for high status accommodation. The Tower would have formed an integral part of a larger complex which would have included a Great Hall. Also in the immediate vicinity would have been a variety of ancillary and supporting buildings. An inventory made in 1537, following the death of Sir Robert Constable, mentioned the presence of a "tower, hall, great parlour, lord's parlour, chapel, court house, mill-house and great barn". The earthworks around the tower are the remains of these buildings as well as other structures that would have supported the (predominantly) agricultural activity associated with this manorial site.

 

Sir Robert Constable was the last of his line and it is probable the site went into decline following his death. Precisely when it was abandoned is unknown but by 1798 the Tower was ruined and being used as a cattle shed.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Douglas, D.C and Rothwell, H (ed) (1975). English Historical Documents Vol 3 (1189-1327). Routledge, London.

Douglas, D.C and Myers, A.R (ed) (1975). English Historical Documents Vol 4 (1327-1485). Routledge, London.

Emery, A (1996). Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Historic England (2015). Flamborough Castle: a Fortified Manor, List entry 1014896. Historic England, London.

King, C.D.J (1983). Castellarium anglicanum: an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands.  Kraus International Publications.

Poulson, G (1840). The History and Antiquities of Holderness.

Ryder, J (1982). Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire. East Riding Archaeologist.

Salter, M (2002). The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire. Folly Publications, Malvern.

Williams, A and Martin, G.H (2003). Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. Viking, London.

What's There?

Flamborough Castle consists of the remains of a ruined, rectangular stone Tower surrounded by earthworks associated with a manorial complex.

Earthworks. The earthworks surrounding the tower are all that are left of a once bustling manor. The buildings around the tower would have included the great hall and kitchens. The area beyond would have been occupied by lesser buildings most of which would have supported the agricultural outputs of the manor.

Tower. Only three sides of the tower survive. The outline of the vaulted basement can be seen in the ruins. The plug holes held the wooden beams that supported the first floor.

FLAMBOROUGH CASTLE

Flamborough Castle, which is also known as Danish Tower, was a fortified manor owned by the Constables of Holderness. The site was dominated by a rectangular stone tower that had been built in the mid-fourteenth century and this would have been surrounded by a Great Hall and a host of other ancillary buildings. The tower remained occupied for around 200 years.

Getting There

Flamborough Castle is located off Tower Street behind the war memorial. On-road car parking is possible.

Flamborough Castle

Tower Street, YO15 1RH

54.114115N 0.126009W