Walmgate Bar

Walmgate Bar Audio Guide

The audio guide contains more detail than the text below. Audio files are typically less than a megabyte in size.

Walmgate Bar Quick Facts

  • Out of all the gateways in York, this is the most interesting because it is the most complete gateway in the country.
  • Walmgate Bar still carries its portcullis as well as the barbican structure preceding the 15th century solid oak doors.
  • Walmgate Bar is also located in the same area as York Cattle Market once was and animals grazed on the earth banks of the city walls.
  • The portcullis is the gate that was lowered and raised to allow passage through into the city. The barbican is a walled structure attached to the front that trapped enemies so that missiles could be thrown down upon them to defend the city.
  • You can walk through this particular gate and examine the solid oak doors as well as the gate and barbican. Beware however, as it also serves as a cycleway.

Where to Find Walmgate Bar

More About Walmgate Bar

Walmgate Bar is one of the five main gates to the City of York. Walmgate Bar (or gate) is somewhat unique as it is the most complete in the UK in the sense that it still has its barbican and its portcullis. The barbican is the structure on the outside of the gateway that trapped enemies between the gate of the bar and the gate of the barbican so that missiles could be hurled at them. This even included boiling hot water. The portcullis is the large gate that is their demise due to missiles being shot down from the barbican walls and the bar above. Portcullis survivals in York are wood with iron tips at the bottom;  unlike Monk Bar, there are no murder holes at Walmgate Bar. Another noticeable difference is that there are not any stone figures at the top of the structure unlike Micklegate, Monk and Bootham bars.

You will notice at the rear of Walmgate Bar is an Elizabethan structure that is now a cafe supported by two pillars. This was built around 1584 and today is a pitstop for those taking the York city walls walk.

As the path through the arch is only open to cyclists and pedestrians, it is a good idea to walk through and take a look at the 15th century solid oak doors. Walmgate Bar we see today was built in the 14th century although the inner gateway was built in the 12th century. It was originally known as Walbergate relating to a Scandinavian woman.

Walmgate Bar was targeted by canon fire during the 1644 siege of York during the civil war. Moreover, it suffered decades of neglect by 1840 because as well as the siege, it was also damaged by a peasants revolt over taxes in 1489.

Walmgate Bar York is the most complete in the country owing to its barbican remaining intact.
Walmgate Bar York is the most complete in the country owing to its barbican remaining intact.

The cattle market was relocated in the same area from 1828 where cattle was traded from all over the country. In the grassy banks of the walls the cattle would be penned awaiting their sale. However, since 1971 the cattle market resides in Murton close to the city. It is now known as York Livestock Centre. There were public houses (“pubs”) located just down the road at Fishergate that all faced the same way except for one which was the Edinburgh Arms. This was because the Scots would leave the public house on the opposite side to prevent drunken brawls between the English and the Scots.