Standing on a rocky promontory above the North Sea, Scarborough Castle is a history landmark of the town that lends it its name, as well as the North Yorkshire coast. Visit the castle to discover 3,000 years of human history on the site - and to take in the stunning coastal views while you're at it. Here's our guide to how to make the most of your visit to Scarborough Castle.
The headland above the town of Scarborough stands some 300 metres above sea level. And with such a commanding position it's unsurprising that there are records of human activity on the site dating back three millennia.
Excavations have discovered evidence of an Iron Age settlement, which was followed by a Roman signal station as an early warning system to look out for invaders. The first castle was built in the 12th century and saw its fair share of action, withstanding sieges during the English Civil War.
From the 1650s, Scarborough Castle was used as a prison and military barracks, which led to a dramatic bombardment of the castle and town by the German navy during the First World War. More than 500 shells were fired and 17 people lost their lives.
Today, the ruins of Scarborough Castle are a designated ancient monument by English Heritage, and a visit is well worth it if you're interested in history or simply want to take in the coastal landscape in which it's set.
The ruins of Scarborough Castle are set in 16 acres on the headland above the town, and the best way to explore the grounds is by picking up an audio guide from the gatehouse. This will take you on a tour of the different parts of the castle with stories from its 3,000 years of history.
Once you're standing at the castle walls, looking out across the North Sea or down to the bays of Scarborough, it's not hard to imagine why the Romans decided to build their lookout here. If the weather is fine you can see for miles down the Yorkshire coastline - and it's a fine spot for a picnic with a view.
If you don't fancy preparing your own supplies, the former Master Gunner's House is now a coffee shop with hot and cold light meals and snacks, homemade cake, tea and coffee. There's also a small castle shop for souvenirs from your visit.
Also in the Master Gunner's House is an exhibition that tells the story of Scarborough Castle and the town below. Exhibits include a Bronze Age sword dating back to the earliest settlement of the site, as well as artefacts from the many different periods of the castle's history.
Kids will love following the nature trail around the castle grounds and headland. You can download an 'I Spy' app to help you know what to look out for - the area is known for red kites, butterflies, deer and foxes - and you can add your discoveries to the chalkboards laid out at different points around the castle.
Throughout the year, and especially during school holidays, there are events held at Scarborough Castle including adventure quests and treasure hunts, medieval fool schools and more.
Scarborough Castle is within walking distance of the town's centre and approximately one mile (1.6km) from the railway station.
There's no parking at the castle itself, so if you're travelling by car it's best to park in town and make your way on foot. The closest car park is at West Pier at Scarborough Harbour, a 15-minute walk from the castle. The local council also runs park and ride services to and from the town centre.
At Scarborough Castle there are limited parking spaces for disabled visitors: please contact the castle directly on 01723 372451 to reserve a space.
During the summer, Scarborough Castle is open daily from 10am. Outside the main season, opening times vary depending on month and school holidays. Check the English Heritage website for up-to-date opening times.
Admission to Scarborough Castle costs £6.90 for adults, £4.10 for children (5-17 years) and £6.20 for concessions. You can also get a family ticket for two adults and up to three children for £17.90. Audio tours are available at the gatehouse, and there is a printed guidebook to Scarborough Castle which costs £4.
There is plenty of space within the castle grounds to lay out your picnic blanket, while the coffee shop in the Master Gunner's House offers a range of snacks, as well as hot and cold drinks.
Planning a visit to Scarborough Castle? Find somewhere to stay with our hotels in Scarborough.