York is claimed by many to be one of the most haunted cities in England. It is a place filled with history from a dark past, yet there is one site that is far bloodier than the rest. Clifford’s Tower is a massive stone edifice that watches over York from the height of a great mound. The tower is actually the old keep of York Castle and originally built in 1068 under the orders of William I to keep control over the old Viking city of Jórvik.
1190 was to see one of the worst riots followed by a massacre to ever occur in York, all centered around the tower. An angry mob gathered with the purpose of eradicating Jews within the city. Fearing for their lives a number of Jewish people took shelter, gathering inside the safety and strong walls of York Castle’s keep. Sadly, as tensions rose the people trapped within the keep were forced to choose between taking their own lives or surrendering to the angry mob who would then kill them. The choice was made and fire was set to the tower. This was a way to destroy the bodies within and avoid them being left open to mutilation by the mob. Most of those within the tower actually chose to take their own lives to avoid burning, while some surrendered to the mob only to then be murdered. The end result of this tragedy was that around 150 Jewish people lost their lives.
Following this terrible massacre, the tower was rebuilt in wood and height was added to the structure. Later again in the 13th century, Henry III rebuilt the tower once again, this time using stone. As time passed, the tower would fall into disrepair and function as a prison. It even gained its name, Clifford’s Tower, for holding a rebel leader in chains from the structure, Roger de Clifford. It saw further damage in the 1600s when it was damaged extensively by a great explosion. Today, the site remains a rich piece of history, though many claim it to be an extremely haunted place.
Ghosts of Clifford’s Tower
There are countless stories of the paranormal associated with Clifford’s Tower. These are believed to be linked to the dark past the building and land has endured. One of the most prevalent stories is of the tower having bleeding walls. Soon after the older wooden towers were replaced with the stone tower that exists today, deep red stains began to appear sprawled across the grey stones. Because of the appearance of these stains, many claimed that it was symbolic of the terrible massacre that had occurred there years earlier.
It turns out that these stains were actually caused by iron oxide rust developing across these stones. Many have been quick to point out however, that this same red stain has not seemed to develop on any of the other stones that were mined from the same place. It seems that these same red stains tend to mostly appear on the anniversary of the massacre. Could this still be a paranormal occurrence, or has it already been debunked?
Plenty more paranormal type activity is also reported within Clifford’s Tower. Staff have claimed to hear the sounds of knocking coming from the ceilings of rooms, which is something they are unable to explain. In addition this, they have also heard what resembles children running through the courtyard despite no one being around. Ghostly footsteps have also been reported all throughout the building and some have even claimed to sight and capture ghostly figures in photographs.
Visiting the Haunted Clifford’s Tower
Clifford’s Tower remains open to the public as a historic museum. Tickets for a self-guided tour can be purchased online or at the entrance to the tower. You will be able to spend as long as you want to explore the different levels of the tower. Make sure to take in the amazing views of York from the top of the tower.
If you enjoyed this article you might also like to check out the haunted York Minster.
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