City Gates - General, York
York must have had so many gates in the past . There are still numerous gates to be seen. On arrival we were faced by one of these gates- a large central arch for traffic and smaller side ways for pedestrians. The ones I can remember are Walmgate, Skedergate,Gillygate, Monkgate, Stonegate, Goodramgate, Fossgate Housegate, Davygate, Petergate, Micklegate and Mary gate.
There are no actual barriers any more, but there would have been. In conjunction with the walls , they would have contributed to making York a secure city.
York has the most intact city walls than all other walled cities in the UK and some areas date back to the Roman times. The Romans first came to the city in the 1st century AD and they built a military fort on the banks of the river Ouse. The city Eboracum developed around the fort and strong walls were built to protect both town and fort. It is these wall that form the base of today’s city walls. By the time the Danes occupied the city in 867 the walls were in a bad state and they restored them. The Anglo-Saxon tower close to the Public Library is the only tower of that date in England. The main part of the wall dates from the 12th to 14th century, and small areas were restored in the Victorian times.
There are main gateways into the old city. They are at Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar. The name “bar” refers to the bars that were levelled across the gates to limit traffic into and out of the city. The bars also acted as tollbooths in the medieval period.
The rectangular gatehouse of Micklegate Bar (the name derives from the Viking "myla gata" or "Geat Street”) is the main entrance to the city. This gate is also the traditional entry point for kings and queen’s when they visit York. The monarchs always touch the state sword when entering Micklegate Bar, this ceremony that dates back to Richard II in 1389, The gatehouse has 4 stories and on its upper floors there are living quarters. In the 12th century there was a simple gatehouse but it was elaborated on with a heavy portcullis and barbican in the 14th century. In a small museum in the gate that shows the history of the gate and the city. It was in this gate that traitor’s heads were displayed in an attempt to stop rebellion. Famous heads that decorated the bar include Henry "Hotspur" Percy (1403), Lord Scrope (1415), Richard, Duke of York (1461), and the Earl of Northumberland (1572). The heads were often left atop the Bar for years.
A walk around the city walls is a good way to see the city and you get great views of the Minster.
Most of York's medieval ramparts, and four of the city gates. remain intact. People are permitted to walk along the top of the ramparts much as the sentries and archers did 700 years ago. Beautiful gardens and greenbelt run nearly the entire length of the ramparts on both sides. The views are excellent from atop the walls.
The city gates were commonly called bars, because iron bars were placed across the openings of the gates to control traffic and to ensure that tolls were collected. The gate shown in the photo was named Bootham bar. It is the main gate on the south side of the ancient city. Part of the internal stonework in Bootham bar is 1000 years old, but most of the gate as seen today was built in the early 14th. century following the invasion led by William Wallace. The success of the invasion exposed the vulnerability of the fortifications. Consequently the ramparts and gates were made considerably higher and stronger.
Along the city walls of York there are four gates (called 'bars'), these being Monk Bar, Bootham Bar, Micklegate Bar and Walmgate Bar. My photo is of Monk Bar which was erected around 1330 -- today it's the home of the small Richard 111 museum (website below).
When walking in the around the inner city of York, lots of remnants of the old city wall can still be seen. And a walk along and on the walls really makes you step back in time for a while. Moreover, three major gates can be found, Bootham Bar, Monk Bar and Micklegate Bar. In the picture you can see Bootham Bar with the York Minster in the background, which is really a fantastic view.
To really get a feel for the city you should stroll at least a section or two of the ancient city walls, open during daylight. Not only do they snake past some of the historic buildings in the city but also walled gardens, monuments, busy streets and the two main rivers.