Clifford’s Tower, an 800-year-old landmark re-imagined with new sustainable timber solution

21 April 2022
Clifford’s Tower, a Scheduled Monument, and the largest surviving structure from the medieval royal castle of York has re-opened, following the interior transformation for English Heritage. Imaginative interventions and an innovative new structure allow visitors access to previously unseen features and a viewing platform, providing magnificent views over York.
Clifford's Tower. Image: Dirk Lindner

Clifford's Tower. Image: Dirk Lindner

Fay Newham. Ramboll

Fay Newham

Project Associate
M: +44 7918 054 814
This 800-year-old landmark, previously an empty shell, now incorporates a free-standing sustainable timber solution that protects the ruin and carries the timber viewing deck. The timber solution enables the suspension of walkways and new stairs that give access to features unseen by the public in over 350 years. 

Ramboll undertook a key assessment of the tower to understand its structural, geotechnical and archaeological restrictions. As conservation accreditation engineers, the team enabled English Heritage to understand the feasibility of interventions possible without destabilising the steep motte.

Working with Hugh Broughton Architects and conservation architect, Martin Ashley Architects on the detailed design, Ramboll provided the engineering design solution for the sustainable timber structure. The new structure supports slender steel walkways enabling visitors to explore the tower, enroute to its stunning new timber roof deck. The careful structural interventions guided by the early assessments recognised the significance of each element of this historic monument, resulting in the respectful restoration and rejuvenation of this significant landmark for society to enjoy for years to come.
English Heritage also appointed Ramboll to deliver a life cycle assessment of the works, assessing and benchmarking the project’s carbon emissions as part of English Heritage’s commitment to sustainable development. 

The technically challenging and sensitive interventions enable English Heritage to provide a new perspective, commenting on the project, Kate Mavor, English Heritage’s Chief Executive, said: “At Clifford’s Tower, new architecture is transforming a centuries-old landmark, opening it up and unlocking its secrets. We’re protecting Clifford’s Tower for future generations and inspiring more people to discover its stories.”  

Fay Newham, Conservation and Structural Associate at Ramboll said: “It has been an absolute privilege to work on this Ancient Monument. We’ve worked meticulously, and respectfully to conserve and re-imagine Clifford’s Tower so that it can be fully enjoyed as an important historical asset for the people of York and beyond”.

English Heritage cares for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites - from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edge of the empire to a Cold War bunker. Through these, they bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year. 


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