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York City Wall
York, Yorkshire, UK
associated engineer
Anon
date  circa 1100 onwards
era  Medieval  |  category  Walls/Abutments/Cuttings  |  reference  SE609515
The Romans built the original wall around the city of York. It was rebuilt by the Danes and the Saxons but then partly destroyed by William the Conqueror. It is the most intact Medieval city wall in England.
The few remaining parts of the Roman wall include a 6m section in the Museum Gardens, some sections between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar, and a section between Monk Bar and the Merchant Taylorsí Hall where courses of Roman stonework can be seen on the city-centre side of the wall.
The largest break in the wall is at Foss Islands Road, which was once a swamp. William the Conqueror created it as a defensive measure.
The circumference of the present wall is 4km, enclosing 106 hectares of York city centre. In Medieval times there were four main gateways, or bars, six postern gates and 44 intermediate towers. The gates would all have been tolled. The main gates are Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar.
Bootham Bar, at the north west corner of the wall, is on the site of one of the gateways to the Roman legionary fortress of Eboracum. The three-storey rectangular gatehouse contains Medieval stonework dating from the C11th.
Monk Bar, at the north east corner of the wall, is an early C14th four-storey gatehouse, designed as fortress where each floor could be defended individually. It still has a portcullis and winding mechanism, which was used regularly until 1970. The bar now houses the Richard III Museum.
Walmgate Bar, at the south east corner of the wall, is a mid C12th three-storey rectangular gatehouse. The portcullis and barbican were added in the C14th. It is the only bar to retain its barbican and wooden inner doors. Accommodation above the gate was regularly rented out from before some time before 1376 until 1957.
The most important gate is Micklegate Bar, at the south west corner of the wall. It was the main entrance to the city and a traditional entry point for visiting royalty. It has a Roman arch and Gothic turrets. The bar is an early C12th four-storey rectangular gatehouse, with rented living quarters on the upper floors. The portcullis and barbican were added in the C14th.
Thomas de Staunton built the existing section of wall from Fishergate Postern to Fishergate Bar in 1345. Between the C15th and C18th, the severed heads of traitors were displayed atop the roofs of Micklegate Bar and Walmgate Bar.
Regrettably, by 1827 the Corporation of York had demolished three barbicans, four postern gates, five towers and some 275m of the city wall, citing the cost of maintaining the ancient structures. The newly formed York Footpath Association, formed by artist William Etty, prevented further destruction. The wall is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade I listed building.
Improvements were completed on 31st August 2006. These included a multi-media installation inside Bootham Bar, information panels at each of the access and exit points and brass pavement markers. The wall is open to the public daily, except Christmas Day. Closing the wall begins at Fishergate Postern about an hour before dark, progressing anti-clockwise.
Research: ECKP
bibliography
www.historyofyork.org.uk
www.jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk
www.york.gov.uk
www.york-walls.co.uk
www.yorkonline.co.uk
Location

York City Wall