Today was a long but most enjoyable day, in York. This is a city with an interesting and significant history. It was founded in AD 71 by the Romans, who called it Eboracum. Constantine was proclaimed Roman Emperor here (by his troops) in AD 306. When the empire faded in 4xx, the Anglo-Saxons renamed it Eoforwic and made it the capital of Northumbria. When the Vikings invaded in Ad 866, they named it Yorvik and it was their capital for almost 100 years, until they were driven out by the kings of Wessex in AD 954. It can be seen that the name Yorvic morphed into York.
The drive to York was mostly in rain along a very flat plain (there is even an Air Force base here). We availed ourselves once again of the Park and Ride option, which worked out very well, depositing us adjacent to the city centre. We were intrigued by the fact that the bus (MB naturally) did a Citroën DS thing in that it lowered itself to let people alight and board very easily.
Our first stop was the small Church of All Saints, Pavement. Maybe small, but it was the church of the guilds of York, with 34 mayors deposited there. It also had some good glass.
Our real first goal was to get to the Yorvik Centre before the crowds of school kids arrived. The centre is very modern museum concept using animatronic figures in situ where excavations had found significant remains of the Viking settlement. The displays, which one viewed seated in a “time capsule” which moved along a track and with the carriages rotating to afford the best views. All the time there was a location-specific commentary on the daily lives of the Vikings. This was definitely geared toward children, but still very interesting. Unfortunately, it was so dark that photography was pointless.
The other major stop was York Minster, the cathedral which evolved over many centuries, beginning in 627. The present gothic minster was built between 1220 and 1480. Prior to that it was a Norman structure. Although we have seen a few cathedrals on this trip, York Minster really impresses.
After an Italian lunch we visited “Treasurer’s House”, the home of an eccentric Victorian businessman Frank Green, but dating from the Middle Ages. Green bought this house in 1897 and re-created his fantasy medieval house where he could entertain and impress aristocrats and royalty. In 1930 he donated this property to the nascent National Trust (it was their first gift of this type).
A quirky part of our visit was the “Roman Ghost Tour” of the cellars. In the 1950’s an apprentice plumber working in the cellar reported seeing a bedraggled troop of Roman soldiers marching through the walls. This put him off plumbing for life and he joined the Air Force, and later became a Minster policeman. In the late 1960’s he recounted this tale to archaeologists and the details aligned with previously-unknown details about Roman soldiers. Joan’s theory: parallel universes!
Following this we walked the section of the city wall constructed over the original Roman walls. This gave some good views of the gardens of posh houses near the Minster, and of the Minster itself.
After the return Park and Ride, the road back to our pub in Brompton was along much the same roads as in the morning (the GPS always has a few tricks up its sleeve), but now bathed in early evening (7pm!!!) sunlight and almost devoid of traffic. The lead in my right foot became very heavy indeed.