Skipton's Archaeological Gateway to the Dales

Hilary O. Gould
hog500 [at]

If you are interested in Archaeology, Geology or Social History read on. Outside York by 40 miles is a town called Skipton (or Sheep-town from its Saxon derivation). It is a historic, and not a little odd (at certain times of the year), market town with great attractions: Skipton Castle, Holy Trinity Church and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal (the first Grade I listed structure for Skipton).

Amidst all this lies a small museum in the Town Hall. The hub of all tourist activity, it combines a gallery relating heritage and the arts - rather interesting - and a small but varied Archaeological museum on the first floor, which is absolutely FREE! Exhibited are all the goodies of Skipton's past: from old excavations revealing the prehistory of Skipton's local area, to artefacts dragged from wells, and tools and objects relating to the industrial expansion of Skipton with the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.

The displays give a glimpse as to how local landscapes were formed by agriculture, industry, lead mining and town life. These collated with the period costume display showcase a neat socio-historic theme to digest as you meander round. All this before hogging the computer to look at the photographic collections.

Be prepared though, you are not going to get a quiet meander, unless you have chosen an off peak time, because local schools love this place. The Riddle Solver quiz and the museum's interactive exhibits usually enthral them.

So, if you are interested in lazily relaxing on a Saturday head there, make it part of a journey to visit Skipton's brewery — the Copper Dragon — or spend it in Skipton Castle where Civil War Battles erupt at certain times of the year. You are bound to find something. Ah and there is a great little pub in Skipton called the Narrow Boat, it has the best selection of beers!

Travel Details

  • Train Routes & Times: YORK — LEEDS — SKIPTON
    Cost single fare: £10.35 (around £16 for return)
    Single journey time: 1hr 1/2
    From Leeds station there is a train to Skipton from platform 4 or 5 which lasts around 45 minutes. Once at Skipton Platform you have a short walk up a small hill past Bizzie Lizzie's (a fish and chippy) into the hub of Skipton. There's a handy map available at
  • Skipton Archaeology Museum Opening times October-March: Mon, Wed-Fri 12:00-16:00, Sat 10:00-16:00.

Events in Skipton

All information provided by Skipton Castle: A Complete Medieval Fortress - some may need to be pre-booked.

  • 27th & 28th March 2009 — An evening of Shakespeare by Dean Taylor Associates. Castle Granary at 7pm. Gates open at 6.30pm.
  • 23 -25th May 2009 — A recreation of a 15th century medieval campsite during the Wars of the Roses within the castle ground. 10am — 6pm (Sunday 12 noon — 6pm). The Garrison demonstrating arms and armour. The Red Wyvern Society.
  • 18th & 19th July 2009 — A recreation: Buckingham's Retinue: Life in the 15th century. 10am — 6pm (Sunday 12 noon — 6pm)
  • 25th & 26th July 2009 — Meet the Governor: Sir John Mallory Governor of Skipton Castle during the English Civil War. Hear about sieges and skirmishes.