The wooden tower was burnt to the ground in 1190, along with 150 of York's Jews who perished in the fire.
The tower was rebuilt in stone between 1245 and 1265. The castle's bailey walls, towers, gates, bridges, two halls, a chapel, a kitchen and a prison were all built at this time.
The name Clifford’s Tower was first recorded in 1596. Before then it was called the Great Tower.
Today the area and aspect of Clifford's Tower is threatened by real estate developers. Citizens, visitors, academics, environmentalists, local businesspeople and Jewish Groups have opposed the development with some success, winning a lengthy and bitter Public Inquiry in 2003.