Monk Bar, York England

Monk Bar Audio Guide

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Monk Bar Quick Facts

  • Monk Bar is the tallest of the gateways at 63ft
  • Monk Bar is the dwelling place of the Wild Men of York at the top of the structure. These fierce individuals were to come alive and cast large stones on the enemy below.
  • Monk Bar was a self-contained fortress and each floor was capable of defending itself.
  • Until 1970 the portcullis worked but got stuck in 1953 when used during the Queen’s coronation.
  • Like Walmgate, Micklegate and Bootham Bar’s, Monk Bar had a barbican that trapped the enemy so that missiles could be hurled at them from above.

Where is Monk Bar

Monk Bar in More Detail

One of the four main gates to the city is Monk Bar. Monk Bar is the tallest of the gateways at 63ft. It is also the most elaborate and it is 4 storeys, built in the 14th century. It was a self-contained fortress and each floor is able to defend itself separately against enemy invaders. Each arch has so called murder holes in which missiles including boiling water was projected at the enemy. Prior to the construction of this gate, it superseded the original Roman gate just a few footsteps away from Monk Bar.

Interestingly, only this particular gate still had a working portcullis, a strong heavy gate that slides up and down, until 1970 and it originally had a barbican, the outer defence, at the front. Walmgate Bar has one of these still intact. The portcullis at Monk Bar was last lowered in 1953 in association with the Queen’s Coronation. Although the gate lowered satisfactorily, the gate got stuck in the road below! As a result, it has never been dropped down again to this day.  It still however, has the winch that works it in place.

Another interesting fact is that it served as a jail for rebellious Catholics in the 16th century.  You will notice a fantastic Model Shop situated underneath the pedestrian arch. 

The Wild Men of York were to come alive and hurl down missiles on the invading enemy below.
The Wild Men of York were to come alive and hurl down missiles on the invading enemy below.

Wild Men of York

You may have noticed that similar to Bootham Bar there are stone figures situated on top (although Bootham Bar’s are considerably smaller).  They are known as the “Wild Men of York”. A legend is associated with the figures in which they would come alive and throw missiles at those daring to attack.