Barden Tower

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Barden Tower from the air MYD4315 (c) YDNPA, 2023

Barden Tower from the air MYD4315 (c) YDNPA, 2023

Barden Tower was originally the site of one of several forest lodges belonging to the Norman lords who owned estates in Craven. Barden was granted to Robert de Romille after the conquest and his descendants hunted and exploited the forest and its farms until the 14th century when the estate came into the possession of the Clifford family. In 1485, the ‘Shepherd’ Lord, Henry Clifford, inherited the Craven estates and chose Barden Tower as his main home over Skipton Castle. The Tower was substantially rebuilt as a fortified house and a Priest’s house added.

After Henry Clifford died, the Tower probably returned to being a hunting lodge or temporary dwelling for the Clifford family. By the early 17th century it had become a ruin. In 1657, Lady Anne Clifford, whose mother, while pregnant with her, had once stayed in the Tower, decided to restore it and a plaque on the south wall records her work. After she died, the Tower was once again neglected with the roof timbers being sold off in the late 18th century. The Tower today is preserved as a romantic ruin by its present owner the Duke of Devonshire. It is associated with the earthworks of a substantial Medieval garden and deer park.

Barden Tower MYD4315 (c) YDNPA, 2023

Barden Tower MYD4315 (c) YDNPA, 2023


Beaumont, Heather M (1996) ‘Tracing the evolution of an estate township: Barden in Upper Wharfedale’ The Local Historian. Vol 26:2 pp66-79 – website for the Bolton Abbey Estate


On B6160 road between Bolton Bridge (4 miles) and Burnsall (4 miles). Car park adjacent to ruins. See for opening times and charges.

Public Transport Details

Nearest town/village: Bolton Abbey. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.


See for information on accessible facilities.