Scarborough is one of my favourite places in Yorkshire and not just because of childhood nostalgia (my grandparents used to take me on day trips there when I was a child). On a sunny day the beaches are glorious and there’s plenty to see and do in the town itself and surrounding countryside, particularly if you have an interest in history.
Scarborough has been inhabited for a long time – the rocky headland housed a Bronze Age settlement and the Romans built a signalling station on the same site in 370AD to warn of Saxon raiding parties. The town itself was founded by the Danes in 966AD but in 1066 the army of the Norwegian king Harald Hardrada razed Scarborough and killed many of its inhabitants.
Despite the destruction, Scarborough’s position on the coast and the attraction of its easily-defended headland, meant that it was too valuable to be left in ruins. The town was rebuilt, receiving its first charter from Henry I in 1100, and construction of a castle began around 1136. The keep – which still stands – was built in 1158 by Henry II, and the town began to flourish. By the 14th century Scarborough housed around 2,500 people.
The English Civil War saw the castle under siege twice, in 1645 and 1648. After the parliamentary army captured the castle for the second time they partially demolished it to prevent the royalists using it again.
In the 18th and 19th centuries Scarborough became a spa town and a popular seaside resort, especially when it was connected to the then very-new railway network in 1845. Sea air and bathing in sea water were considered healthy by the Victorians and particularly recommended for convalescence. Anne Bronte, like many of those afflicted with TB at that time, came to Scarborough in the hope of curing the disease but sadly died soon after. She is buried in the churchyard.
Scarborough castle is now owned by English Heritage and is well worth a visit. The town is fairly easy to get around but, be warned, it is a steep climb up to the castle and parts of the town!
Parking in Scarborough is not particularly easy and the A64 can be one long traffic jam of caravans in holiday weeks and Bank Holidays. The Park and Ride is highly recommended! Alternatively there are trains via York, including – in summer months – the Scarborough Spa Express heritage steam train via Leeds, Wakefield, and York.