Micklegate Bar originally dates back to the 1100s, but only the lower storeys are from that time. The upper parts were added in the 14th century. In the Middle Ages, it was the most important of York's city gates. This also becomes evident in the name, as "Micklegate" derives from Mykill Gata, meaning "great street". In order to defend the city, the gate also had a barbican, which was removed in the 19th century. But it was also home to many living and dead people: The rooms were rented out since the 12th century, and the head of traitors were skewered upon pikes and exhibited on the gates.
It is the custom that when the ruling monarch visits York, he or she must stop at Micklegate Bar and must ask the mayor for permission to enter.
Today, the gate is a museum, and you can learn more about many aspects that were important in Micklegate Bar's history. There are exhibitions about how the city was defended, and also about the people who lived here and the traitors whose heads met their fate on the gate's walls.
There is a lot of information and there are also interesting historical items and replicas to see. In addition, the building is an attraction in itself, and I think I would pay an admission fee just to see the interior, even if it wasn't a museum - the old walls and stones, the low ceilings and just the overall atmosphere of such an old building... Fascinating!
Photo 2: A German sallet from the 15th century. This is a replica and you can lift it to see how heavy it is. Unbelievable that people could wear these for hours, let alone fight wearing them!
Photo 3: A padded coif from the early Middle Ages, made of linen or calico and stuffed with straw. It was worn under the helmet to cushion the head. Again a replica.
Photo 4: A watchman's uniform.
Admission fee: adults £3,50, concession £2,50, children free - included in the York Hidden Secrets Pass!
Openen times: 10.00am to 04.00pm in summer, 11.0am to 03.00pm in winter, open daily but closed in December and January. The Museum will be closed if the city walls are not open.
When the medieval city walls were completed the gate called Micklegate Bar became the main entrance into the city. The oldest parts of the gateway (Bar) date back to the 12c but this ancient gateway has changed over the years.
The Bar was restored and refurbished by The York Archaeological Trust and the Micklegate Bar Museum reopened in the Spring of 2010.
28th May - 31st October Open 7 days a week 10am - 3pm
1st November - 31st November Open 7 days a week
11am - 3pm (weather dependent)
1st December - 31st January 2011
Micklegate Bar is one of the four preserved main gates of York and was its main entrance. When a royal visit was expected, this was always the gate to be used. The name comes from the nordic myla gata, meaning “great street”. Bar is the barrier used to prevent other from entering the city without paying the respective toll. And if you werer note weclome in this city or are regarded as a traitor, your head may appear on top of this gate. At least, that’s how it was in the Middle Ages. The gate was built in the 12th century, but rebuilt and expanded in the 14th, resulting in today’s gate. Today, it houses a small museum about the history of the gate and some general items related to the history of York. Some of the plastic heads of “traitors” seem there since the Middle Ages, judging from the spiderwebs around them… Anyway, the museum is one of the five so-called “hidden secrets” of York. If you visit the museum, ask for this free “hidden secret” discount card. If you pay the full price at one of these attractions, you will only pay half the price at the other four. The “hidden secrets” are Barley Hall, the Richard III museum, Micklebar Gate Museum, the Roman Bath and the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall.
Micklegate Bar was the traditional ceremonial gate for monarchs entering the city, who, in a tradition dating to Richard II in 1389, touch the state sword when entering the gate.
A 12th century gatehouse was replaced in the 14th century with a heavy portcullis and barbican.
Traitors' decapitated heads used to be displayed on the defenses. One of them was Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York (1461).
Nowadays, the upper two floors contain a museum of the bar.