The City of York has more miles of intact city walls than any City anywhere else in England, and some sections of the walls date back to Roman times. When the Romans first arrived in York during the first century AD, they built a military fortification on the banks of the River Ouse. The town of Eboracum (the original Roman name for the city) grew up around the fort, and strong walls were then constructed to enclose both the fort and town. These walls form the basis of the city walls that remain today.
The most notable Roman remain is the Multangular Tower, which stands in the Museum Gardens. This tower was built during the reign of the Roman Emperor Severus, who resided in York from 209-211 AD. The tower has 10 sides, and stands almost 30 feet high. There were once 8 fortified towers, including three on each side of the main entrance to the fort.
The old Roman walls were in a poor state by the time of the Danish occupation of York in the year 867. The Danes restored the walls, and the Anglo-Saxon tower near the York Public Library is the only such tower remaining in England. The majority of the York City Wall dates from the 12th to the 14th century, although a few sections were restored in the Victorian age. The main entrance gates into the old city stand at Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar. The name 'bar' refers to the simple bars which were levelled across the gates to restrict traffic in and out of the city. The bars also acted as toll booths during the medieval period.
? The rectangular gatehouse at Micklegate Bar (the name derives from the original Viking 'myla gata' or 'geat street') marks the main entrance to the city of York. Micklegate is also the traditional entry point for Kings and Queens visiting York. In a ceremony that dates back to the reign of King Richard II monarchs touch the state sword when entering Micklegate Bar.
The Micklegate gatehouse is four stories high, and contains living quarters on its upper floors. A simple gatehouse was constructed here in the 12th century, but elaborate defences were added in the 14th, with a heavy portcullis and barbican.
There is a small museum inside Micklegate Bar, which traces the history of the Bar and the city of York. Micklegate Bar was historically the place where traitors heads were displayed to deter rebellion. Some famous (and infamous) heads which once adorned the Bar include Henry 'Hotspur' Percy (1403), Lord Scrope (1415), Richard, Duke of York (1461), and the Earl of Northumberland (1572). Heads were often left decaying atop the Bar for years. Bootham Bar contains some of the earliest medieval stonework in York City Walls, with the oldest sections dating to the 11th century, though much of what remains today dates from the 14th and 19th centuries.
Monk Bar is the most elaborate of the city gates of York. Monk Bar consists of a four-story gatehouse which dates from the early 14th century. The gatehouse was originally designed to be able to stand as a self-contained fortress, with each floor capable of being defended individually.
? Monk Bar is now home to the Richard III Museum, where visitors can see a modern 'trial' of Shakespeare's villain and decide for themselves if Richard really was the prototypical evil uncle, or a maligned and courageous king.
Considerably more of York City Walls might remain if it had not been for the misplaced efforts of the Corporation of York. In 1800 the corporation applied to the British parliament for permission to destroy the old walls and city gates due to their age and the cost of maintenance. Despite opposition, including that of King George II, the Corporation proceeded to demolish 3 walled forts, four gates, and short sections of wall. Some sections of wall damaged in this way have since been repaired.
You are viewing panorama No.29 (Multangular Tower, Museum Gardens, York), one of 134 Virtual Reality 360 degree views of York.
Map of York showing the location of Multangular Tower, Museum Gardens, York at Latitude 53.96119 / Longitude -1.08744.
We have visited York on a number of occasions to produce this tour, this page was created on Thu, 25 Sep 2014 16:49:53 +0100, although the photography may have been obtained on an earlier date.
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