Travel and Places
Historic City of York, England
Updated on May 14, 2015 Carol Fisher moreContact Author York Minster at Night | Source York – Steeped in History
York, the county of Yorkshire’s major city and a magnet for visitors from everywhere in the world.
They’re attracted by the quaintness of the streets, the city’s beauty, York Minster and the town’s long history which incorporates Romans, Angles, Vikings and Normans.
York has many interesting museums including one dedicated to trains and railways that displays full size train engines and carriages. There are festivals throughout the year that bring people from many different countries to participate and the city even has its own saint, Margaret Clitheroe.
York within the North-east of England
A map showing the York unitary authority in relation to the remainder of Yorkshire | Source The History of York
Although there may be evidence of settlements in the area many thousand years, York was founded in AD 71 as the Roman settlement of Eboracum. It was established as a fort and military headquarters to keep down potential rebellions and to guard against raids by the northern tribes and it eventually became one of the two capitals of Roman Britain (the other was Londinium).
By the 5th century AD, the Roman legions were withdrawing from Britain to defend Rome. As they left, attacks along the coast increased until the 7th century when the Angles invaded and called the town Eorforwic. It became the capital of the kingdom of Northumbria. In AD 866 the Vikings took over and called the city Jorvik. By 1000 AD it was often called York.
The Harrying of the North
After the Norman Invasion in 1066, William the Conqueror set about imposing his rule on the entire country. He marched north and entered York where he built two castles. Much of the North of England resisted Norman rule and York was retaken by the Anglo Saxons. This resistance was broken after ‘the harrying of the north’ in 1069. This was a horrific period of English history. The Norman army burnt villages and food stores, killed livestock, salted the land to stop crops growing and slaughtered everybody they may find.
In the chronicles of 11th century monk, Orderic Vitalis, it says:
“The King stopped at nothing to hunt his enemies. He cut down many people and destroyed homes and land. Nowhere else had he shown such cruelty. To his shame he made no effort to control his fury and he punished the innocent with the guilty. He ordered that crops and herds, tools and food ought to be burned to ashes. Greater than 100,000 people perished of hunger.
I have often praised William in this book, but I can say nothing good about this brutal slaughter. God will punish him.”
After the north was pacified, all positions of power were held by Normans although the general population were still Anglo-Saxon. Based on the Domesday Book, 20 years after the harrying, the population of York had fallen from 8000 to 2000.
York Rises from the Ashes
The walls of the town were rebuilt, wooden building were replaced with stone, trade increased and York became a prosperous centre. Buildings just like the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall and the Guildhall were constructed reflecting town’s prosperity.
York Minster, picture taken from a nearby rooftop | Source York MinsterLearn about the amazing York Minster.
Buy Now The Magnificent York Minster
No visit can be complete without seeing York Minster, the largest medieval cathedral in Britain.
The primary cathedral in the town was completed in 633 AD however the magnificence of Durham Cathedral and the good Yorkshire Cistercian abbeys spurred on the authorities here to construct something even greater.
Construction of the current building started in the 13th century and took about 250 years to finish.
The Minster was spared during the Civil War because the citizens surrendered to the Parliamentary army, led by Sir Thomas Fairfax, on condition that none of their churches, including the Minster, can be damaged.
The cathedral has many wonderful things to see.
Medieval Glass Amongst these are the glorious windows with their original glass, the biggest collection of medieval glass in Britain.
The Chapter House This octagonal room is the meeting place for the Dean and Chapter. Alongside each of the eight walls are six seats. This is to emphasize the importance of every member. This beautiful room, completed in 1286, was built in the decorated Gothic style and its walls are decorated with very fine carvings.
York Minster’s Tower The climb to the top of the Tower is just not for the fainthearted or those easily tired. There are 275 steps which take the visitor to some of the perfect views within the country. Not only do you get a great view of the Minster’s gargoyles and pinnacles, you see over the medieval streets to the countryside beyond. As climbing the Tower is something of an achievement, upon getting done it, you should buy a certificate to prove it.
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What do you consider York or this page?
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sendingNadia 2 years ago
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MarcellaCarlton 3 years ago
Oh My! I’d love to go to sometime. It is so fascinating, especially the archaeology.
Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale
Just to let you recognize that this lens was included in the newest Carry on Britain newsletter (Yorkshire edition!)
IanTease 3 years ago
A wonderfully in depth lens on the good city. Love the Minster
Rebecca Shaw 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada 4 years ago
I do believe that York is my favourite city of all, though it’s been many years since I had the pleasure of a visit. One of my fondest childhood memories is of climbing to the highest of the Minster tower, setting my feet carefully into the worn places in the steps, counting every one, and losing count about two-thirds of the way up because I got fascinated with what number of other feet must have trodden the identical route, to wear down the stone a lot. Thank you for the lovely trip back down Memory Lane to a beautiful old city.
Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale
I have not been to York for years but it is an exquisite place.
Takkhis 4 years ago
Good Historical lens and well written.
milesryley 4 years ago
I believe enough of it to have let it star in my book! And i lived there for over 20 years.
PostcardPassion 4 years ago
What a wonderful lens. Visited York recently and i should say that I love the place. I believe York and Bath are my two favourite places to buy
itravel2004 lm 5 years ago
Great Lens, perhaps will visit York if go London
jolou 5 years ago
I would like to see it, together with other places within the UK.
Great lens. I’m adding it to my ‘Ghostly Halloween Tales from City of York’. Seems like we have now much in common.
Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France
I used to be brought up in York and it is a really great place. I’ve never exhausted the things there are to do there. This is a superb guide.
JoshK47 5 years ago
I absolutely love visiting places steeped in history – this sounds right up my alley! Blessed by a SquidAngel!
Lindrus 5 years ago
Thanks for this information packed lens! Well done!
milesryley 5 years ago
You might find this as interesting as I discovered the content of your lens.
I’ve written and recently released a novel, currently available in e-reading formats, in regards to the return of the Black Death to York.
Please see www.tsoy.co.uk for information on ‘This Son of York’ – there are sample chapters on this website.
jonnyyoung13 5 years ago
nice article, have you been to All Saints church, North Street? I did a dissertation on it. Amazing stained glass.
DonD LM 5 years ago
I hope I can visit the place someday this is an ideal place for vacation along with your loved ones.
jimmyworldstar 5 years ago
I really like visiting historic cities. It’s a sad incident concerning the massacres when the Normans invaded and the mob attacks on the Jews. Thankfully even if it was centuries later, someone apologized for the actions of their ancestor.
Lemming13 5 years ago
I really like York, certainly one of my favourite places to go to; especially the undercroft in the Minster, I just love walking back through time. Truly superb lens, belssing it.
Ben Reed 5 years ago
I really like York – one in all my favourite places to go to. Only 50 miles or so from home, it’s a lovely place and your lense does it justice.
Thrinsdream 5 years ago
I live 20 minutes from York and adore it. Great lens. My parents home was once owned by a senior stone mason who fashioned parts of the minster and their land has bits of York minster masonry everywhere, it’s fabulous. With thanks and appreciation. Cathi x
waldenthreenet 5 years ago
Lovely Lens. Love York History. Live near York, Virgina. There is a link, need stronger links community to community. Your topic more important than mine. Virginia Tomorrow.
BritStops 5 years ago
Fascinating and comprehensive lens on York.There’s not much you could have missed here!
Deadicated LM 5 years ago
So very interesting, I like History; and that i live in the city named after York, New York. Great Lens!
uktvbrackets lm 5 years ago
visited york some years back. really interesting place
PositiveChristi1 5 years ago
York is one of my favourite cities.
blessedmomto7 5 years ago
I would like to get there someday! Great info and photos! Blessed on an angel travel quest. (Guess for now I have to travel virtually.)
franstan lm 5 years ago
Very comprehensive have a look at town of York. Blessed
Antony J Waller 6 years ago from North Yorkshire
Excellent lens, most comprehensive and informative. I live within half an hour of the town, so know it quite well
Ann Scaling Tucker 6 years ago from Enid, OK
My great-grandfather came from Scarborough and that i still have relatives in Yorkshire. I actually enjoyed reading your lens.
reasonablerobby 6 years ago
Its a fantastic place to visit. A walk on the city wall gives you a real sense of history. You might be also a short drive to Leeds where the Royal Armouries is simply too
AdeleW 6 years ago
What a fantastic lens. I’m lucky enough to be visiting York this weekend and after reading this superb piece of writing, I can’t wait to get there!
NYThroughTheLens 6 years ago
Wonderful, wonderful lens.
Jen Maskill 6 years ago
I like York. I’ve been there so many times. I like to walk across the walls.
Worth another visit and this time with wings: great lens on York Angel blessed.
Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California
Absolutely fascinating info on York. I wish to fly right over and go to that Shambles area…I’ve been to many medieval towns and what treasures you see. Blessed 🙂
Jennifer P Tanabe 6 years ago from Red Hook, NY
Wonderful lens about York – I did not realize there was such a dark history there! Happy April Fools Day
I need to visit York one in all lately, there may be a lot to see there. Blessed by an angel.
Charles Nullens 6 years ago from London
The National Railway Museum is just brilliant – my grandad used to take me there and that i recently took my very own son. We ate our packed lunch while sitting on the same bench that I used to sit on with my Grandad when I used to be my son’s age. It was a surreal moment to say the least. My favourite exhibit there is the prototype Deltic.
SandyPeaks 6 years ago
Jorvik is among the finest finds in the country!
Hmm… Time to visit York. Next time I’m in England, will do. Great lens. Thanks.
TeacherSerenia 6 years ago
Excellent lens and I love the history!!!
Blessed by the western european angel
Wednesday-Elf 6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia
Fascinating review of the history of York. I visited England in 1993 and to this present day am amazed by its long history. You could have buildings from medieval times (like York Minster) and even regular houses that are older than our entire ‘country’ here within the U.S.! 🙂 Thanks for the tour of York. Really enjoyed it.
Katherine Tyrrell 6 years ago from London
A wonderful lens – which I have come to expect from you. My only suggestion for improvement would be to incorporate an explicit timeline somewhere to locate all the historical periods and events as you might have them listed out of sequence. Blessed and listed within the Better of the UK
joanv334 6 years ago
Hello, thanks for sharing!
Kimberly Hiller 6 years ago from Chicago
Wow, so much good content. I wish I could have gone to that cathedral when I used to be in Europe. The graveyard/corpse thing is kind of creepy though. =)
CliveAnderson LM 6 years ago
What an amazing lens, really informative and a great resource. I simply love Yorkshire and hope to retire to Wenslydale once I have made my fortune online. If ever there was a place of shere beauty then Yorkshire is certainly it… Thank you again.
hayleylou lm 6 years ago
We used to go to York at Xmas sometimes, beautiful 🙂 **Blessed** and featured on My Time as a Squid Angel 🙂
Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England
One in every of my favourite cities – very nicely described.
Give a mention to Bettys though — every time I visit my mum gives me a shopping list for theri cakes.
ChrisDay LM 6 years ago
Another triumph – well done
ashroc 6 years ago
There is a whole lot of really interesting information on this lens
KDimmick 6 years ago
Blessed by an angel 🙂
anonymous 6 years ago
I loved this lens! As a student of the Wars of the Roses,supporter of Richard III and a Yorkist wannabe, I’ve always been fascinated with the town of York. I would love to go to it sooner or later. I find its Yorkist connections, especially those involving Richard III extremely interesting.This lens is exceptionally informative–Thanks!
Mary Beth Granger 6 years ago from O’Fallon, Missouri, USA
Very interesting lens…thanks for the history lesson. Blessed and added to my December Blessings lens.
RinchenChodron 6 years ago
I have been to York – loved it! Great historical lens.
Michey LM 6 years ago
I live historic cities, and i Bless this lens.
Your lenses are very informative, it’s a pleasure to read them
Brookelorren LM 6 years ago
There’s a lot of data here. This could be a fantastic place to go to (after rereading your lens).
GeoffSteen 6 years ago
Great lens, love all the detail and history. York may must be our next destination for a brief break!
@bsblmike2: How would you know what the people of England are like? Have you met many English people. I wouldn’t dream of making such a sweeping statement in regards to the people of any other country because, if I did, it could just show my own stupidity.
bsblmike2 6 years ago
england is a cool place actually though the individuals are noobs
Nancy Tate Hellams 6 years ago from Pendleton, SC
Oh Me! I sure appreciate this History Lesson and learning about York England. Certainly one of nowadays I might like to visit there.
Spook LM 6 years ago
Ah, the grand old Duke of York. He had 10000 men, he marched all of them to the highest of the hill and them he marched them down again. Fascinating lens.
Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK
I do not know how I missed this before, but it is a fantastic lens. We were as a consequence of go to York in a couple of weeks, but had to cancel the trip unfortunately. Maybe we are able to get there next year, I always wanted to visit.
Kiwisoutback 6 years ago from Massachusetts
I’ve always wondered what the original “York” looked like. I’ve only seen the “new” one within the USA. Great lens, it looks like an interesting place.
seegreen 6 years ago
Ok, that bit in regards to the graves, the stench, the quantity of bodies, the graves being shallow and body snatches… Eww! Blessed by an angel.
Linda Jo Martin 6 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA
Oh my goodness! I’d LOVE to visit YORK … especially to see and experience the Shambles. It can be like walking through history. What a wonderful lens!
Nan 6 years ago from London, UK
I’ve enjoyed retracing the visit we made to York a few years ago. The boys loved/hated the York Dungeon. They wanted to leave most of the way through it, and once we were out wanted to go through it again!
Blessed by an angel
Edit Photos 6 years ago from Earth
Great lens. Planning a UK trip next year. Thanks! Angel Thumbs Up!
squid-janices7 6 years ago
Amazing lens with so much information! My husband and i visited England about 5 years ago and stayed at a hotel just across from York Minster. The town was lovely and we had a terrific time walking the walls, old town, and touring the minster (including the Roman building underneath). The town must be on the “must see” list for anyone visiting England.
P.S. Thanks for the angel blessing on my train lens.
AuthorCarol Fisher 6 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK
@pkmcruk: Thanks very much for the blessing, Paul. I too have always been very concerned about Richard III. Was he the evil king who had his nephews murdered in the Tower or was he an enlightened and just ruler? Who knows? It’s the victors who write the histories and Richard lost at Bosworth Field.
pkmcr 6 years ago from Cheshire UK
How on earth have I missed this amazing lens! Stunning and informative and naturally York is one among my favourite cities with the amazing York Minster. Even with my family being Lancastrian for a lot of centuries back I have always had an enormous interest in Richard III
Carol your lenses are always amazing and this one is really spectacular! Blessed by a passing Squid Angel 🙂
@indigoj: Thank you so much for the blessing on this lens – it is much appreciated.
Came back to leave an *~*~ Angel blessing ~*~* on this glorious lens about the town of York.
Beas 7 years ago
This lens is de facto interesting and entertaining! I learned so much. For instance why the rich wanted to be buried inside churches, how they disinfected money and (something that happened during the reign of King Henry VIII which is the topic of one in every of my favorite TV series; The Tudors) the sentencing of Margaret Clithroe.
Kiosks4business 7 years ago
What an important lens – and so many fantastic places to go to in York! Thanks for all your hard work!
AuthorCarol Fisher 7 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK
@dewarfinch: Thank you so much for that. The actual fact you’ve got lived in York for so long and also you like the lens is a great compliment.
dewarfinch 7 years ago
I’ve lived in York for over 40 years and I’m still learning things about it. Your Lens is a superb presentation and I do know that it is loved by a lot of people.
norma-holt 7 years ago
Wonderful story filled with facts and great information. 5* fave and lens rolled to Roman Emperor Constantine. I’ll feature it there as well.
anonymous 7 years ago
Nice information, keep it coming some good things learned here, thanks twin over full bunk bed
justholidays 7 years ago
I’ve got a three-day trip to York (by boat) offer and think I will book it as you definitely convinced me to get to York! This the type of town I love, with tiny streets, with this particular British flavour.
I forgot to say on my Broadstairs lens that the only country where anyone would feel really fine and forget all their problems is England. There must be a special gas or something in the air, as I’ve never fell so fine than in England!
Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK
I believe this lens is completely amazing. I only just came across your impressive collection of lenses and this was the primary I picked to read as I’m considering York. Did I pick a very good one! There may be a lot to learn here – things I did not know in any respect. Really enjoyed my visit!
WindyWintersHubs 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC
Congratulations on your Purple Star. So rich in history and well deserved. 🙂
AlisonMeacham 7 years ago
I used to review in York and always loved walking around town. It is a few years since I have visited but would love my children to see it. Squid Angel Blessings to you for a superb lens.
Sniff It Out 8 years ago
York is a lovely place and you have done an ideal job together with your lens!
Featured on my Yorkshire Pudding lens.
RaintreeAnnie 8 years ago from UK
Wonderful comprehensive lens on a fantastic and lovely city.
julieannbrady 8 years ago
What a fabulous lens — richly presented.
anonymous 8 years ago
Hi, living in York I found this post very informative. I’m new to Squidoo and never realised you might add so way more content!
Tiddledeewinks LM 8 years ago
Another lens well done!
jolou 8 years ago
What a wonderful lens! I do hope to go to the UK sooner or later.
Liam Tohms 8 years ago
Hi, great lens, why not join the Yorkshire group here on Squidoo – for all things Yorkshire at http://www.squidoo.com/groups/yorkshire
See you there.
rebeccahiatt 8 years ago
Fantastic lens, loads of data and straightforward to read.
fluffanutta 9 years ago from UK
This is a superb lens about where I live :o)
KimGiancaterino 9 years ago
Nicely done. Welcome to All Things Travel. I’m also giving this lens a Squid Angel Blessing!
Susanna Duffy 9 years ago from Melbourne Australia
Fascinating and simple to read … I really like York and intend to be there next Battle Day
anonymous 9 years ago
Great Lens 5* and a favourite and welcome to Travelmania Group, regards from North Lincolnshire.