Monday, July 17, 2006

Multangular Tower, York

Multangular Tower
North Yorkshire

The large Roman Multangular tower stands in the grounds of the Museum. It has been called the Multangular tower since about 1683, thanks to Dr Martin Lister, a 17th century naturlaist and physician. Before this, in records dated 1315, it was referred to as Ellerendyng, and then in further records dated 1380, as Elrondyng. The tower forms part of the old Roman defences of what was the fort of Ebaracum.

Above. A view into the tower.

This tower was one of two major towers of the great fort the the Minster is now built over, facing out over the River Ouse. The other tower is situated beneath a street called Feasegate. The long wall had smaller towers at intervals, numbering six in total, three either side of a great gatehouse that would have split the wall in two.

Above. A panoramic view of the interior of the tower, and the medieval walls to the left and right.

The wall in which the tower is built, was probably built between AD209 and AD211, by the Emperor Severus when he was in York. It is the only surviving portion of the Roman walls. The lower section, constructed of smaller uneven stones, marks the original Roman tower, whilst the larger, regular shaped stones, mark the medieval and later additions to this tower. A drawing of the tower, dated 1807, shows the interior filled with earth right up to the bottoms of the large windows.

Above. A view of the tower looking across the museum lawns.

The tower is nine metres high, although only the bottom six metres is of the original Roman structure. The tower was incorporated into the medieval defences of the city and built up so that it could easily be used to defend this portion of the city.

Above. An external view of the tower.

Nearby to the tower, a rare Saxon tower survives, surrounded by medieval wall.

Micklegate Bar, York

Micklegate Bar,
North Yorkshire

Micklegate Bar started off as a small gate into the city of York sometime between 1100 and 1132. In 1333, the defences of the gateway were beefed up, and a large barbican was built, and a portcullis was added, the additional height of the tower being added at this time to house the machinery required to raise and lower it. The slot down which the portcullis ran is still visible within the walls. Unfortunately for us, the barbican was removed in 1826 to aid the free flow of traffic into the city. The gatehouse was remodeled extensively in 1827, 1863 and during the 1950's, when the carved figures were erected on the two pepper pot turrets.

Above. The external face of Micklegate Bar, minus its barbican.

In 1569, the Earl of Westmorland commented that Micklegate Bar was the strongest bar, with the strongest portion of wall surrounding the city of York, and to this day, it has to be the most recognisable, and the most impressive of York's gates. It is first documented in records from the reign of Henry II, and some time around 1196, a grant was obtained for a house to be built above the gate. The gate was used, as well as a defensive structure, as a toll booth, with tolls on goods coming into the city being levied here. The barbican on the exterior of the gate, projected some fifty feet beyond the external walls. It was in an extremely poor state of repair by the early 1800's, with several drawings showing walls collapsed and even missing. When one of the side walls fell down in 1810, York Corporation decided that the while of the barbican should be dismantled, although it was not fully removed until 1826. There are four shields above the central arch of the gate: The shield directly above the arch, commemorates the restoration of the gate in 1737, and shows the arms of Lister Kaye. Above this shield, and to both left and right, are shields with the arms of the city of York. The top shield, with a gold helm over it, shows the Royal arms with 'France ancient'.

The gatehouse was used to display the severed heads of executed prisoners. For example:

Sir Henry Percy 1403
Sir William Plumpton 1405
Lord Scrop 1415
The Earl of Devon 1461
The Earl of Northumberland 1472
Four of the Farnley Wood Conpirators 1663
William Conolly and James Mayne 1746

Above. The internal face of Micklegate Bar.

The passageways to either side of the gate are relatively modern additions. The double arched passageway, to the right of the above photo, dates from 1753, and was originally a single arch, designed by John Carr. The single arch was replaced by the two arches seen today, in 1863. The passageway to the left of the gate, was designed by Peter Atkinson, and built in 1827. The gate was the most important portal into the city of York, indeed, Royalty and other important dignitaries were all greeted by members of the City Corporation here. Henry VIII was famously greeted here when he visited York in 1486, when he was granted the keys to the city. James I was also greeted here in 1603, with trumpeters high on the city walls. Charles I was also greeted with great pomp some thirty years later, and when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited in 1971, they too were greeted at Micklegate Bar. Following tradition, both the Queen and Prince Philip had to ask permission from the Lord Mayor of York to enter York.

The gatehouse lays at the junction of Micklegate and Nunnery Lane, and is well worth a visit.

Fisher Gate Postern\Bar, York

Fishergate Postern\Bar
North Yorkshire

The tower over Fishergate Postern was built in 1501\02, and replaced an earlier tower, the Talkan Tower. It was built to defend a new postern or gateway in the city wall here at Fishergate.

Above. A view of the tower looking South.

Fishergate is a tall rectangular tower of four storeys. It originally had a flat roof with crenellations. The steepled roof seems to have been in place for a significant period of time...John Speed's map of York, dated 1610, shows it pretty much as we see it today.

Above. A view of the tower looking East. The postern can be seen to the right of the tower.

The tower had a fireplace, now bricked up, on the first floor, and a spiral staircase in the South corner would have led up to a small turret on the former flat roof.

Fishergate Tower can be found at the junctions of Tower Street, Piccadilly and Fishergate, and is only about a hundred yards East of the castle.

The Old Baille, York

The Old Baille
North Yorkshire

York is noteworthy in England as one of a tiny number of towns with two Norman built castles. Cliffords Tower, the more recognisable and complete of the two, sits on the East banks of the River Ouse, sandwiched between Tower Street and The Castle, whilst the Old Baille sits hidden under a canopy of trees on the West banks of the River Ouse, at the junctions of Cromwell Road and Skeldergate.

The Old Baille was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror, as part of an effort to bring the city under his control, and was the second castle to be built in York in two years. Both castles had been severely damaged, if not completely destroyed by 1069, by a Danish army intent on reclaiming the North of England back from William. Both castles were repaired almost immediately that the Danes had left (paid handsomely to quit England) and the English rebels defeated.

The motte stood to a height of around forty feet and had a diameter of around one hundred and eighty feet at the base. Today it stands to around twenty five to thirty feet in height. Investigations of the motte in 1969, found evidence that it had been constructed in horizontal layers of earth and stone, and during the 1300's, it was topped with a timber structure with a wooden palisade around the summit. It is thought that a flight of steps led to the top of the motte, and that it was protected by a deep and wide ditch. The Old Baille had a rectangular bailey area to the North West, probably where the houses on Falkland Street and Baille Terrace now stand. The bailey was surrounded by a bank and ditch, and probably covered an area of around three acres.

The Old Baille was probably out of use by about 1200, and had been handed over to the Archbishop. Around 1322, Archbishop Melton gave promises to defend the Old Baille if the city would offer up assistance in times of war. He rebuilt the defences of the castle, firstly in wood, and sometime later, in stone. Responsibility for the upkeep of this castle, especially about who was to pay for repairs etc, rumbled on until the middle of the 15th century, when the city of York obtained ownership of the motte and its bailey.

From this time on, the castle area was used for grazing cattle, and only returned to a defensive mode of use when two cannon were mounted on its summit during the civil war. With the restoration of the monarchy, the castle was once again returned to grazing, and in 1722 the summit of the motte was lowered and planted with trees. Between 1807 and 1807 a prison was built over the bailey area. The prison was closed in 1868 and then demolished in 1880. The bailey area was then built over with houses and streets occupying the site. These days the motte has become part of the wall walk, and is easily accessible after crossing Bishopgate Bridge and heading West along the A1036.

Time Team information.

The above link details an excavation of the motte in the late 1960's. Interesting reading!

Bootham Bar, York

Bootham Bar gatehouse,
North Yorkshire

Bootham Bar gatehouse stands on the site of the old Roman entrance into the city of York, The Porta Principalis . It contains some of the oldest stone work in the city walls complex, some of the building dating to the 11th century.

The gateway was rebuilt extensively in the 14th century, and again during the 19th century, although, as stated before, much of the original stone work is incorporated into the body of the structure. The pepper pot turrets at the top of the gatehouse were added during the 1800's and are therefore not part of the original structure.

The gatehouse sits at the junction of Gillygate, Clifton (A59) and High Peter Gate, and acts as a passage way through the city walls. It had a portcullis originally, which can still be seen raised up into the ceiling.

Barker Tower and Lendal Tower, York

Barker Tower and Lendal Tower,
North Yorkshire

Barker and Lendal Towers, sit either side of Lendal Bridge over the River Ouse. The bridge links Station Road with Museum Street, and was built in 1863 by Thomas Page. Before the bridge was built, the river was cross using a ferry. The towers would have been used to defend the gap in the city's walls that the river created, and to offer a point at which tolls could be collected for goods being shipped in and out of the city.

Lendal Tower

Lendal Tower lays on the North banks of the River Ouse and if first mentioned in historical documents in 1315, as the 'turrim Sancti Leonardi'. At this time, the tower was circular with a staircase turret on one side. The tower was described as 'a great tower with a chain of iron to cast over the Ouse' referring of course to the chain that would have been strung between Lendal Tower and Barker Tower on the opposite banks. The keepers of this chain, are named, in documents dating from 1380, as John de Poynton at Barker Tower, and Thomas Smyth at St Leornards, or as we know it, Lendal Tower.

Above. A view of Lendal tower on the banks of the flooded River Ouse. 

The tower has been altered over the years, so that it does not now display its circular form. Only on the river side of the walls, can the round walls be seen. It was repaired in 1584 and 1585, and had its roof replaced in 1598.

Above. A view of the rear of Lendal Tower.

A proposal was put forward in 1616, to use the tower to house machinery to provide the city with fresh water from the river, but it wasn't until 1674 this scheme was actually undertaken. The tower was rented out on a lease of 500 years, repaired and raised to house the machinery. A pump was inserted into the tower, powered by a water wheel. This was later replaced by a wheel powered by a horse.

Above. A view of Lendal Tower above the River Ouse.

Drawings and sketches dating to before 1846, show the tower at its post 1674 height, whilst later sketches, dated to after the 1850's, show the tower much as we see today, slightly reduced in height, sometimes partially submerged beneath the swollen waters of the Ouse.

Barker Tower

The Barker Tower lies on the South banks of the Ouse, and would have been used to secure the other end of the chain across the river. This tower, like Lendal Tower, served both a defensive and a commercial use.

Above. Barker Tower from the bridge.

This tiny river side tower is first mentioned in records dating from 1380. From early sketches and drawings, it is evident that the Barker tower hasn't changed much over the years. The most visible difference is the inclusion of windows just beneath the eaves of the roof. These windows were originally the tower's crenellations.

Above. Barker Tower viewed between the walls and the bridge. 

Up until about 1863, the tower was traditionally let to the Ouse ferrymen, who were responsible for ferrying men and goods between the North and South river banks here.