IS it a new hotel? A block of flats nearing completion?

No, it is one of York’s most famous landmarks half way through a major refurbishment.

Clifford’s Tower is shrouded in scaffolding from top to bottom as English Heritage gives the ancient monument a makeover designed to make it more accessible - and more interesting.

Work began last November and was due to be completed this summer - though English Heritage has so far been unable to confirm whether that will still be the case.

The work includes the construction of new internal walkways and a roof deck within the tower - which will both help to protect it from the elements, and give visitors unrivalled views of the skyline

There will also be improved visitor information - though English Heritage long ago abandoned plans for a visitor information centre embedded in the base of the castle mound, following massive public protests.

The proposed centre was variously described as a 'toilet block' and a 'carbuncle on the face of an old friend' by outraged locals when the initial plans were unveiled. Instead, once the tower re-opens to the public, there will be a small information vehicle to be parked each day at the mound's base, with a member of staff selling tickets, membership, guidebooks and postcards.

The refurbishment is being carried out by contractors Simpson (York) Limited and the ancient monument is off-limits to members of the public as the work continues. 

But hoardings which surround the base of the tower priovide some fascinating information about the old castle - including an artist’s reconstruction of what it might have looked like in the early 14th century.

The stone tower was built in the 1250s replacing an earlier wooden structure. It sits on top of a castle mound created by William the Conqueror in 1068.