Norton Tower

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Norton Tower from the air MYD3933 (c) YDNPA, 2023

Norton Tower from the air MYD3933 (c) YDNPA, 2023

The ruins of Norton Tower stand on the strongest point of a natural ridge, and are flanked on the east side by a slight bank and ditch. The Tower was probably built by Richard Norton of Rylstone Hall around 1540. Legend has it that it was used to house watchers after a dispute with the Cliffords of Skipton Castle over hunting rights in Rylstone. It is more likely to have been a guard post for the associated rabbit warren. It may also have been used by its aristocratic owners for banqueting when they were out hunting. The bank and ditch may have formed part of a palisaded enclosure, later walled, that covered the summit of the ridge and was primarily designed for herding deer. The Tower measures 9.5 by 7.5 metres with walls 1.2 metres thick, standing to a maximum height of 5 metres.

Norton Tower features in William Wordsworth’s poem ‘The White Doe of Rylstone’.

Norton Tower MYD3933 (c) YDNPA, 2023

Norton Tower MYD3933 (c) YDNPA, 2023


Hartley, Marie & Ingilby, Joan (1991) The Yorkshire Dales. Otley:Smith Settle – information on the writing of the White Doe of Rylstone


Take public bridleway from B6265 1/4 mile south of Rylstone signed Halton Height. Join public footpath south to Sandy Beck Bar after 1/4 mile. Tower can be viewed from this path.

Public Transport Details

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


Paths rough and muddy in places.