5 Must See Pieces of York’s History

Posted November 1, 2018

by Jay – Astor York

If the United Kingdom was a library, York is the encyclopedia, bursting with history, telling tales dating back to the 1st Century! Acting as a revolving door for many settlements over the past 2000 years, the beautiful city of York is an absolute must visit for anyone who wants to take a trip back in time. Read on for 5 must see pieces of York’s History, for the fascinating, amazing and at times gruesome history of England!

Originally founded and settled in by the Romans in 71AD, Eboracum (now known as York) was soon home to a civilian settlement. It quickly established world importance, being the centre of military, political and economic affairs in the north. Fast forward about 800 years, and the Romans had abandoned York. They left the fertile land and great trade hub for the Vikings to settle in, and rename Jorvik. Due to the many different settlements, York is peppered with amazing relics, architecture, and stories which really do take you on a journey back into time.

York City Walls


Since the settlement of the Romans, York has been defended by city walls. It’s no surprise people travel from far and wide to see them. Wrapping the city, the 2 miles of wall is the longest to its type in the United Kingdom, and acts as a great vantage point to view the beautiful city from. One of the many free activities in York, walking on top of the walls really takes you back in time. This is sure to fulfil the adventurous spirit inside everyone! This is a great work out, and gives you breathtaking views of the city centre. You may even meet one of the many squirrel families which call the overhanging trees of the wall home. Just be sure to take your camera to envy all your friends with your amazing Instagram photos!

York Minster


Its beautiful, gothic lantern tower is the focal point of Yorks sky line. The minster is a one of a kind landmark that you would be crazy not to visit! Construction began in 1381, and took approximately 250 years to build. The minster is now considered one of the finest medieval building in Europe. It attracts over 2 million visitors a year to bask in its sheer beauty. The Minster also boasts the largest medieval stained glass window in the country, recently restored to its originally glory. This is the largest of its kind in Europe!


The minster is still undergoing construction and has been so for some time now. However, stone masons can be viewed onsite working with traditional methods, to complete renovations. This in itself is a popular attraction. Onlookers can observe and watch how much work goes into building such an amazing structure. The minster is just as breath taking in the day and night, and I’d highly suggest seeing it during both. Access can be gained to take a look at the many stained glass windows, for a small admission. For those who want the best view of the city, take a walk up to the lantern tower! Pricing and times are available at https://yorkminster.org/visit/plan-your-visit/

Clifford’s Tower

Clifford’s Tower is arguably York’s most unique and fascinating landmark. It packs more history, stories and myths that you could poke a stick at! Sitting alone just across from the brilliant Castle Museum, Clifford’s tower is the last renaming piece of the, what once was York castle. Clifford’s tower and the now burnt down York castle hold a very important part in the history of England. It is the location of the mass suicide and massacre of 1190.

To summarise what went on here, tensions between the Jews and Christians reached a breaking point, and anti-Jew riots took place. The Christians stormed the castle, and the massacre began. Many Jews opted for suicide and threw themselves off the castle. We recommend one of the free walking tours. They are a great way to hear an in depth recollection of the events which took place. You will understand why they hold such an important place in English history. White rose walking tours frequent Clifford’s tower twice daily, where guests are given the opportunity to enter and head to the top of the tower for another unique view of Yorks city centre.

The Shambles


What makes googles most picturesque street in the UK you ask? A packed narrow street of 14th century timber buildings, boutique shops and a LOT of history. Previously serving as a butchers lane many moons ago, and thought to be one of Europe’s oldest market streets, The Shambles still to this day has reminders of its past. Old meat hooks are still hanging, and a there’s a cobblestoned guttered pavement used to move old meats and scraps to the bottom of the streets. The Shambles does really get the imagination working, picturing this now glamorous street in a different state. For those fans of the oh so popular Harry Potter novels, it is argued The Shambles was an inspiration for J.K Rowling and Diagon Alley, and is now home to Harry Potter novelty and gift shops.

St. Mary’s Abbey


In the tranquil museum gardens, is the ruins of what once was the richest abbey in the north of England. The story of St. Mary’s is intertwined in two of England’s most historic events. Firstly, William The Conqueror reinforcing his hold on the north in 1066. It ended with Henry The Eighth as a consequence of his reformation of the church. The now ruins are truly unique as there are no restrictions on them. Everyone gets the opportunity to go right up close and admire the architecture, as well as get that phenomenal Instagram photo! The backdrop of the amazing museum gardens make it a popular place amongst locals and tourists to unwind, relax and have a picnic with friends.

We can all be fascinated, amazed and learn a lot from history! This is why York is dubbed one of the finest places in the United Kingdom to visit. A beautiful city, with a small town feel, an abundance of landmarks, well kept relics, and breathtaking surroundings is why we will be seeing you here soon!


Just don’t forget your camera!!!


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