Tuesday, May 3, 2022–York and York Minster

After another English buffet breakfast at the hotel, we were led on a walking tour of York. (Kay has several ancestors buried in York).

York is a cathedral city with Roman origins at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Ross in North Yorkshire, England. It is the historic county town of Yorkshire, and one of 15 in England to have a Lord mayor, and one of two, with London’s, to have the added “The Right Honorable” title. A walled city in northeast England that founded by the ancient Romans, York is a walled city. The City Walls form a walkway on both sides of the River Ouse. Evidence of the ancient wall may be seen in the photos below.

The tour took us on York’s medieval streets, including the Shambles, one of the city’s narrowest alleyways.

Next, we toured gothic York Minster, York’s huge 13th-century Gothic cathedral, York Minster, has medieval stained glass and 2 functioning bell towers. The original church was damaged in 1069 during William the Conqueror’s siege of the north, but the first Norman archbishop, Thomas of Bayeux, arriving in 1070, organized repairs. The Danes destroyed the church in 1075, but it was again rebuilt from 1080. The new structure was damaged by fire in 1137 but was soon repaired. The choir and crypt were remodeled in 1154, and a new chapel was built, all in the Norman style. Walter de Gray was made archbishop in 1215 and ordered the construction of a Gothic structure to rival Cantebury; building began in 1220. The north and south transepts were the first new structures; completed in the 1250s, both were built in the Early English Gothic style but had markedly different wall elevations. A substantial central tower was also completed, with a wooden spire. Building continued into the 15th century and declared complete and consecrated in 1472. Over the course of the next several hundred years until present, many preservation and restoration efforts were and continue to be undertaken. 

York Minster has medieval stained glass and 2 functioning bell towers. Among its many priceless artifacts, York Minster has the largest collection of medieval stained glass in the United Kingdom, with the earliest pieces dating from the late 12th century.

York Minster’s Great East Window, created in 1405-08, is the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in Britain with over 300 glazed panels, and is one of the most ambitious windows ever to have been made in the Middle Ages.

Next, a brief stop was made in Heddon-on-the-Wall, a village in Northumberland, England, located on Hadrian’s Wall. Hadrian’s Wall is a former Roman defensive fortification begun in AD 122 in the reign of the emperor Hadrian. Built to guard the wild northern frontier (now Scotland) of the Roman Empire, Hadrian’s Wall was more than just a barricade; it was an occupied military zone of mile-castles, barracks, ramparts, forts and settlements sprawling almost 80 miles in length from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. Hadrian’s Wall is a World Heritage Site, one of 28 places in the United Kingdon granted this status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for its outstanding, universal significance. 

From there, we stopped at nearby Three Tunnes Pub for a simple sandwich before proceeding to Bamburgh Castle.  

Bamburgh Castle is on the northeast coast of England, by the village of Banburgh in Northumberland. It is an imposing medieval fortress that is one of the largest inhabited castles in Britain.

The original fortress was destroyed by Vikings in 993, and the Normans later built a new castle on the site, which forms the core of the present one. After a revolt in 1095 supported by the castle’s owner, it became the property of the monarchs of England. Evidence of the ancient fortress can be seen in the walls and parts of the buildings shown below.

In the 17th century, financial difficulties led to the castle deteriorating, but it was partially restored by various owners during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was finally bought by the Victorian era industrialist William Armstrong, who completed its restoration. The rocky plateau upon which the castle sits affords great ocean views. The castle still belongs to the Armstrong family and is open to the public.

We crossed into Scotland late in the afternoon, and overnighted at the Norton House on the outskirts of Edinburgh.