The Normans Arrive
Previous southern kings had been content to let the north be. Not so William the Conqueror.
After 1066 York was ‘seething with discontent’, in the words of chronicler Orderic Vitalis. It was a Viking city, with Viking traditions and culture. More than that the whole of the north was in rebellion. So William marched on York in 1068.
William intended to make this large and prosperous city a part of his kingdom.
As he approached, leading citizens gave him hostages and the keys to the city.
But William was determined to stamp his authority on York. He began by building a castle, followed by a second in 1069, leaving 500 knights as a garrison. The city’s continuing importance was thus confirmed – it was the only place in the country with two castles outside London.
York's two Norman castles were designed to control access to the city by river: they were sited on eith side of the Ouse, one at Clifford's Tower and the other at Baille Hill. A chain could be threaded between them to prevent passage on the river.
William was right to be cautious - there was still unrest in the north.