previously posted on my blog Abroad in London
as a weekly update for family and friends
A Day Trip to York
On Saturday I went on a day trip with Elizabeth to York. York is this charming little town halfway between Edinburgh and London. The city itself was originally Roman and has 2
sets of walls – one Roman and one Medieval. It’s really a fascinating city to visit and there’s a whole load of history!
I booked the tour through Anderson Tours (same company I took to Stonehenge/Bath).
And as usual they were a great company to go with. Since York was so far away (about 3.5 hours by road) we ended up using a train. I love trains to begin with and it’s really a fascinating way to see the English countryside – a lot of the unspoiled English country side.
We arrived in York and the first thing we got to do was a Tour of the old city. Basically what’s so unique and amazing about York is that they have their own fleet of tour guides that are free. These men and women volunteer to give tours around the old city and they’re quite knowledgeable. Our Tour guide was a fountain of information and he took us to all of the interesting sites:
- Medieval Wall: This portion of the wall was taken down to help traffic flow in and out of the city more easily. That’s the problem with these old walls and their gates – there’s no room for the larger vehicles we use today compared to the carts they used then.
- Roman Ruins: What was particularly neat about these ruins was you could see the different deposits of stone throughout the years. For instance.. there’s a red line through the wall – that’s from the Roman times. The Romans used the red tile to indicate a city of merit/importance. Above that they had to build up the wall in the Medieval times. This building on top of existing infrastructure is a theme of York – keep that in mind for later. You can also see the coffins they had here – there was a smaller one outside of the pictures. We were told that after the body decomposed they’d take the bones and put it into the smaller coffin to reuse the larger one since they were made of stone and undoubtedly hard to make.
- Abbey Ruins: Thanks to Henry VIII England lost a number of Abbeys when he broke away from the Catholic Church. He tour down many of them and the interesting this is almost all ruins of abbey’s look alike – with a single wall still standing almost perfectly intact. This is because to remove the walls he would have the flying buttresses used to support one wall pulled away. Once those supports were out the entire abbey would topple in the direction of the broken wall – leaving the remaining wall standing.
- “Bars”: The entrance points to the city were referred to as “bars” (or gates). There were four of them to as part of the Medieval wall built around the city. There were supposed to be barbicans attached to them as well but those were removed hundreds of years ago.
My absolute favorite part of the tour and the city was a story we were told towards the end of the tour. It has to do with this Roman Column. In the 1970s the York Minster was having troubles with it’s foundations. The entire building was starting to sink upon itself and architects determined that they needed to dig below the foundation of the Minster and add concrete support. Well when they started digging they found an amazing discovery.. the Minster had been built upon a Roman building and there were still columns and other artifacts below the Minster that had rested there undisturbed for some time. Needless to say they found another way to support the Minster.
Another fun part of the city were the old medieval buildings that were still standing:
- Timber House: This old building was much like some of the others you’d see around York. It was from the Medieval ages and the way you could tell it apart from similar styles of today is that the building itself is crooked and at an angle.
- Medieval Structures: Even more noticeable in this picture are the Medieval houses leaning towards each other and over the street. The floors are uneven and they stick out like a sore thumb! (Another View)
For the last stage in the trip Elizabeth and I returned to the York Minster and toured the Church. We saw the inside – which was spectacular – and then climbed to the top. I thought that Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur in Paris were bad.. but these steps were so narrow it was very difficult to climb. But it was worth it for the views from the top.
- The Stairwell
- A View from the Roof
Then from the roof we went all the way down to the Roman Ruins.. and I took a picture of this Wishing Well.
By the end of the day we were exhausted but had a good time.. we started with our walking tour.. saw the Viking Museum.. enjoyed lunch at a local pub.. visited the open air market.. toured and climbed the York Minster.. and saw an amazingly quaint city with importance to the shaping of England and Scotland.