Skipton Castle (North Yorkshire)
Skipton Castle is one of the most complete and well preserved medieval castles in England.
Fully roofed with an enchanting early Tudor courtyard the stout towers of the gatehouse only hint at the splendour which is revealed as the visitor enters the castle grounds.
Facing the gatehouse there is a large tower, originally the watchtower – the most important feature of the castle’s defences. To its left is the present entrance to the inner core of the stronghold.
Masons’ marks can be seen in the stonework within the main entrance and the Conduit Court. Stonemasons would leave a carved initial or symbol to show which stones they had dressed so that they could be paid for their work.
In medieval days visitors would have crossed a bridge over a moat and then passed under a portcullis and through the main doors before reaching the inner courtyard. The grooves of the portcullis and the opening for the drawbar of the great door can still be seen.
Leading off the Conduit Court is the Banqueting Hall, the social centre of the Medieval castle, and where the Lord and Lady would have dined.
The medieval kitchen would never have passed the scrutiny of today’s public health inspectors; it would have been a crowded, hot and smelly place.
The garderobe (privy) opens straight off the kitchen. Next to it was a chute which discharged kitchen waste into the stream below.
Pipes made from elmwood brought water from outside, but if the castle was besieged and the pipeline cut off, the inhabitants had to rely on rainwater collected from the roof and channelled into a cistern beneath the Conduit Court.