History of York

York is one of England’s most beautiful cities with a long and detailed history. The history begins with the Romans and moves through invasions of The Saxons and The Vikings across time.

The Romans founded the city around 71AD and lived, ruled and created ‘Eboracum‘ (as they called it) across the next three centuries making it what it is today. The city was understood to be chosen due to a perfect opportunity to create a fortress. York was the ideal location for attacks into the North Yorkshire Moors and the Pennines yet also had both the River Foss and Ouse to provide transportation to the North Sea and also it sat on a main ridge to provide a main approach to the city – now mainly followed by the road, the A64. Unfortunately, only 2% of the Roman remains have been rediscovered in York, therefore there are many secrets from these times still hidden within the city. The largest piece of Roman York which remains today is the Roman Fortress which is located in the Museum Gardens, York and the full story of this era can be seen within The Yorkshire Museum, York.

The period of 400 – 600 AD saw the Anglo-Saxons settle in the area although there is not a depth of historical knowledge from this time. The Saxons knew the city as “Eoforwick” which means wild boar town or rich in wild boar. There are many unknowns about this era – some say there was mass production of glass, metal and pottery while others believe the city may have been deserted for a period due to flooding but the reality is quite unknown and many knowledge gaps remain.

The Viking invasion took place in 866AD, led by ‘Ivar the Boneless’ and lasted over a hundred years with many of the street names seen today dating back to this time. The Vikings renamed the city ‘Jorvik’ and many of the names of the roads today take on the Scandinavian name for road ‘Gata’ which is highlighted in the streetnames such as Stonegate, Petergate and also Goodramgate (which is the street where our last York Jewellers shop was located prior to us now trading solely online). The Jorvik Viking Centre is a very popular tourist attraction and takes you on a trip through Viking life and even includes a replica of smells of the time! The Vikings, although known for their invasions, took care of the city including farming and significant crafts such as ship building, traders, engineers and artists. The Vikings also created a number of the beautiful things which still remain in the city today. Under the era of the Vikings, York became the capital of the kingdom of York which roughly resembles Yorkshire today.

The Medieval era saw the re-building and strengthening of the iconic city walls (and entrances of each of the four gates added to regulate traffic) which are famously now known as The Bar Walls, York. This ancient monument encircles the city with many tourists taking the 3.4km walk around the city with the majority of the wall still being preserved today. At this time, many of the buildings which remained from previous era’s were strengthened with stone including the historic Clifford’s Tower, York.  The Merchant Adventurers Hall and the Guildhall reflect the increase in trade and commerce seen at this time.

York is a popular tourist destination with its iconic attractions such as the magnificent York Minster, historic Clifford’s Tower and the Victorian railway station which has also featured in films such as Harry Potter and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

York is well known for being one of the oldest, best preserved cities in the UK and also boasts one of the most recognised streets in England – ‘Shambles’, which is well worth a visit and is also very close to our last retail shop which was in Goodramgate in a Grade II listed building (No. 83)!

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