Monument record MYO1090 - YORK CITY WALLS Tower 19 (ANGLIAN TOWER)

Summary

A probable late Roman tower situated against the Roman fortress walls in the Museum Gardens. Generally known as the Anglian Tower as date not certain - originally thought to be 7th century.

Location

Grid reference SE 6004 5213 (point)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire
Civil Parish York, City of York, North Yorkshire

Map

Type and Period (4)

Full Description

Formerly known as: The Roman Room MUSEUM GARDENS. Defensive tower. Probably C7 AD on Roman footings; excavated in 1969. Rough dressed oolitic limestone with brick vaulted roof. Rectangular on plan, approximately 4.5 metres high. Original access by means of narrow segment-arched doorways in both returns. Front and rear broken by round-arched vault of C19 tunnel, during the excavations for which the tower, subsumed within the ramparts of the medieval walls, was rediscovered in 1839. (An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York: RCHME: The Defences: HMSO: 1972-: 111).
Listing NGR: SE6049052070

Derived from English Heritage LB download dated: 22/08/2005

NMR Information:

The Anglian tower was first discovered by workmen making a tunnel from St Leonard's Place to Mint Yard in 1839. It was probably located again in 1934 by the City Engineer. Limited excavation was undertaken in 1969 10 feet above the modern street level and confined between the Mediaeval town wall and the stable, only an area 25 feet x 15 feet being exposed. The location of the tower places it between the conjectural locations of two Roman interval towers on the SW side of the Roman fortress.

The tower walls are much thinner than the Roman or Mediaeval walls, being 1'6" - 2' wide, and unlike the Roman walls and Saxon walling which utilises magnesian limestone and/or millstone grit, the tower is uniquely constructed of oolitic limestone.

The tower was clearly constructed later than the Roman wall and projected above it to an unknown height. There is some evidence that its usage was limited, being sealed by the Danish rampart. During that short lifetime the west corner collapsed.

There is no secular parallel for this tower in Britain, nor in Europe. It could not be directly dated, and on balance the most likely dates for its construction are the mid 7th century or mid 9th century. The function of the tower is also problematical. Two doorways at the base were designed to allow a through sentry walk behind the stump of the Roman fortress wall., and there is no evidence to suggest that the tower chamber had any function other than to allow free access along the walls. The form and function of the upper part of the tower cannot be known. It may have served as a watch tower, a platform for archers or artillery, but there is no surviving evidence to substantiate any of these. The position of the tower might imply the existence of others. (1)

Brief sumary of the tower. (2)

Anglian Tower. Formerly known as: The Roman Room. Defensive tower. Probably C7 AD on Roman footings; excavated in 1969. Rough dressed oolitic limestone with brick vaulted roof. Rectangular on plan, approximately 4.5 metres high. Original access by means of narrow segment-arched doorways in both returns. Front and rear broken by round-arched vault of C19 tunnel, during the excavations for which the tower subsumed within the ramparts of the medieval walls, was rediscovered in 1839. Listed Grade I. (3)

1 Register of parks and gardens of special historic interest in England Part 32 North Yorkshire (May 1987) English Heritage

Related event: (UID 613515) INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Architectural Survey 14-NOV-1995


Initially thought to be a 7th-8th century church excavation in 1969 revealed several episodes of refurbishment but little in way of dating. A post-Roman date was assigned. Further work in 1971 also proved inconclusive. Now generally believed to be late Roman on the basis that the limestone used was newly quarried and did not include re-used Roman blocks. Tooling and architectural details suggest a date of end of 4th century early 5th century. Mainman, A. 2019, Anglian York p46

See Hall, R.A. 1996 B.K. Davison’s investigations of York’s defences between Multangular and Anglian Towers, 1970, in Ottaway 1996, p256-72 The Arch of York vol 3/3


Roman York Patrick Ottaway 2013
The tower wall footings are shallow, but the front of the structure was founded on the base of a cut into the fortress wall and the rear stands on the rampart, which was reduced in height at this point.
The 1970 excavation was not able to offer any conclusive evidence for the date of the tower, although it was obviously later than the fortress wall and earlier than a bank strengthened with rough stonework which had been built on top of the Roman rampart. This bank is thought to have been a replacement for the fortress wall’s derelict parapet and it contained one or two sherds of Anglian pottery. One reason for suggesting a post-Roman date for the tower appears to be the notion that the cut into the fortress wall was an enhancement of a gap already created by dilapidation. P142 However, the creation of the tower may be due to other ones becoming unsafe to use through subsidence. This could have occurred in Roman period.


RCHME, 1962, Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York, Volume 1 Eboracum (Bibliographic reference). SYO62.

2019, Anglian York (Bibliographic reference). SYO2551.

Sources/Archives (2)

  • --- Bibliographic reference: 2019. Anglian York.
  • --- Bibliographic reference: RCHME. 1962. Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York, Volume 1 Eboracum. 1.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (5)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Jan 11 2021 10:28AM

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