The original walls were constructed by the Romans surrounding a military fortress. The Vikings demolished much of the Romans work and constructed their own in wood. The walls we see today are medieval with a Victorian twist! Let's explore York's City Walls!
You can walk the full circuit of the medieval city walls and explore some of the amazing views of the Minster, Dean Park, a medieval guildhall, Roman roads, and much more.
Roman, Viking and Medieval architecture is woven in the fabric of these city walls that no doubt contain many stories to tell. As you walk the walls, remember that you are walking through history too!
The walls originally had postern towers at wall ends and some of these still exist today. The dramatic Red Tower and impressive Fishergate Postern Tower both stand testimony to the history of York City Walls.
The City Walls consists of many opportunities to take some stunning photography and video. You can receive some fantastic compositions of the Minster, the walls and other historic features en-route.
The Museum Gardens feature some of the oldest stonework from Roman times when they built a defensive wall around their military fortress.
Introduction to the York City Walls Smartphone Tour
The smartphone tours have been designed to either read or play the audio file as you greet each place of interest. For your convenience, each smartphone tour has been spit into two parts in case you want to take a break part way through. Simply follow each route and learn more about the historic City of York! All content on todoinyork.com is free to read, watch and listen to! As a head’s up, the official website for York City Walls can be found at www.yorkwalls.org.
Bootham Bar to Monk Bar
Monk Bar to Walmgate Bar
In any case, this structure also met up with the River Foss, so a wall was not needed between the Red Tower and Layerthorpe wall end as the River Foss and Kings Fishpool provided a protective barrier instead.
This section of the walls does not have any handrails so care is needed here. If you keep your eyes firmly fixed ahead, you will soon notice one of the most important structures on this wall. This is Walmgate Bar, and your first signs of seeing it will probably be the white Elizabethan extension supported on two pillars.
Although this is the most complete gateway in the country, it also doesn’t have something that the other gateways do. You’ll notice that there are no figures on top of the gateway.
In the Walmgate area, livestock grazed on the banks of the walls and were eventually taken to The Shambles and slaughtered there to be sold. In fact, the term The Shambles refers to street of butchers.
On the turrets can you witness musket ball damage.
Aforementioned, there is a cafe known as ‘Gatehouse Coffee‘ situated up the steps. You can enjoy some respite here and sit outside on the barbican walls, a very unique experience to be sure, but don’t throw any missiles at the cyclists below!
Walmgate Bar to Fishergate Tower
When you walk around the corner at the roundabout, you will see Clifford’s Tower that is York’s Castle keep. Many assume that York has one castle but in fact there were two. Originally both of the castles were constructed in wood and sat opposite each other with the River Ouse running in between. Great chains were stretched across the river to prevent traders from leaving without paying their taxes (murage). Eventually, the castle here was upgraded into stone whereas the opposite castle eventually deteriorated. The reason the castle keep (pictured) became known as Clifford’s Tower is because it was owned by some wealthy landowners for a time, the Clifford family. Today it is in the hands of English Heritage.
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© Photography and Video by Phill James
Imagery shot with a Nikon Z50
Content authored by Phill James