Things to Do in Yorkshire

York’s Captivating Past in 48 Hours: What to See & Why

Standing on the Medieval walls, the sun began to set over this captivating city. In the distance, rising above headlights, was York Minster. After just a day we had been spoilt. The Jorvik Viking centre gave us the sights, sounds and even smells of 10th century York. While a walking tour of the city dazzled us with history around every corner. One thing was for sure, with Sunday yet to come we still had a lot to see … Continue Reading >>

Jason Summers

Archaeology Travel

The entrance to Clifford's Tower in York.

Archaeology & History Sites in Yorkshire & the Humber Basin

Roman Sites in Yorkshire & the Humber Basin

Aldborough Roman Town

The Aldborough Roman Town was one of the northernmost urban centres in the Roman Empire and served as the capital of the largest tribe in Britain, the Brigantes. In the grounds of an arboretum from Victorian times you can see the foundations of one corner of the town’s wall as well as two well-preserved and in-situ mosaic floors from the 2nd century AD. A nearby museum displays various fascinating finds from the area.

Medieval Sites in Yorkshire & the Humber Basin

Clifford’s Tower
Clifford Tower on top of the earthen mound in York.

The largest remaining part of York Castle, Clifford’s Tower offers fantastic panoramic views across the city. The 13th century stone tower is situated on a large earth mound, just a stone throw from York Castle Museum. Originally constructed from timber, the structure was erected by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. In 1190 AD it was burned to the ground along with around 150 members of York’s Jewish community besieged inside. In later centuries, the stone tower was likely used as a treasury and then as a prison.

Fountains Abbey
The evocative ruins of Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire.

Founded in 1132 by only 13 monks, today Fountains Abbey is Britain’s largest monastic ruin, and one of the best preserved Cistercian monasteries in England. The abbey along with the adjacent Studley Royal Water Garden has been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites since 1986, and offers over 800 acres of beautiful countryside and woodland to explore all year round.

Jorvik Viking Centre
A diorama in the Jorvic Viking Centre, York.

This world-famous attraction is built upon the excavated remains of a Viking settlement. Producing over 20,000 objects, it was opened as a museum in 1984. Newly refurbished in 2017, the Jorvik Viking Centre allows visitors to experience the sights, sounds and smells of 10th century York. Witness original timber foundations placed nearly 1,000 years ago through a specially designed glass floor. Explore hundreds of well-preserved artefacts such as clothes, shoes, jewellery, coins and finely decorated wooden combs. Learn the incredible story of Viking Jorvik and its rediscovery in the 1970s. [Website]

Rievaulx Abbey
The Cistercian Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire.

Founded in 1132, Rievaulx Abbey was one of the earliest Cistercian Abbeys in England. The abbey started as a simple timber structure and before its dissolution in 1538 by King Henry VIII it evolved into one of the wealthiest abbeys in England. The surviving remains of Rievaulx Abbey are some of the oldest buildings of the Cistercian order in Europe. Today the abbey is in a remote valley in the North York Moors National Park.

Scarborough Castle
Scarborough Castle ruins overlooking the sea.

Scarborough Castle is a former Medieval Royal fortress dramatically situated on a headland promontory, overlooking the North Sea. The ruined stone castle was built in the 1150s, but the site has been used for over 3,000 in the Iron Age perhaps earlier. Viewing platforms and an interactive display enable visitors to explore both the dramatic location and interesting history.

Whitby Abbey
The ruins of Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire.

Whitby Abbey, with its imposing Gothic architecture and dramatic setting on a cliff overlooking the seaside town of Whitby and the North Sea, was an inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There has been a monastery in this spot since the 7th century AD, although the ruins today are those of a 13th century Benedictine Abbey founded by the Normans. Although nothing survives above-ground today, the first monastery on this dramatic spot was that founded by King Oswy of Northumbria in 657 AD. This was a typical Anglo-Saxon ‘double monastery’ that housed both men and women.

Join English Heritage and/or the National Trust

Many attractions listed on this page are managed by English Heritage or the National Trust. Besides supporting their work, joining these organisations offers you many benefits. Read about the benefits of joining English Heritage and/or the National Trust. For non-residents of England, you could benefit from a Pass for Overseas Visitors.
15% Off at English Heritage Membership - Discount Code: EHAFF2023

Museums in Yorkshire & the Humber Basin

York Castle Museum
York Castle Museum is housed in an 18th century prison.

An award-winning York museum housed within 18th century prison buildings. Founded in 1938, its vibrant and interactive displays bring over 400 years of York’s history to life. There is something here for visitors of all ages. Galleries reveal the history of children’s toys, period-style rooms, cells from the notorious old Debtors Prison, and an exhibition dedicated to the centenary of the First World War. Walk through the atmospheric Kirkgate, a recreated Victorian cobbled street lined with old shops, a school and costumed guides. This museum offers a unique immersive experience. [Website]

Yorkshire Museum and Gardens, York
The imposing neoclassical entrance to Yorkshire Museum in York.

Archaeology is one of four permanent collections in the Yorkshire Museum, the others being Geology, Astronomy and Biology. There are nearly a million archaeological artefacts, ranging from the Palaeolithic to the twentieth century. This vast collection is the one of the most comprehensive archaeological collections in a regional British museum outside London. [Website]