Monument record MYO3631 - York City Walls in entirety


York Medieval City Wall. The earlier Danish earthern defences were strengthened c.1215, by raising the bank and defending the circuit with a wooden palisade. Excavations have shown that the defences were about 100 feet wide and 125 feet high, with an external ditch 50 feet wide and 10 feet deep. In the central area of the present city the Roman defences were utilised between St Leonard's Hospital and the re-entrant angle in the rampart opposite Jewbury. The four main gates were built in stone in the 12th century. The stone walls were erected from circa 1250. The semi-circular interval towers date to this early phase of wall building. By 1315, the whole of the Micklegate and central areas were enclosed except for Old Baile. This and the Walmgate area were still defended by the earth ramparts and palisade. The Walmgate defences were walled in stone from 1345. The rectangular interval towers generally date to the first half of the 14th century, the demi-hexagonal towers date to the 14th-early 15th centuries. The defences were first armed with guns in 1491 with the earliest gunports dating from shortly afterwards. The defences were repaired in 1642 and additional earthworks made, York being the headquarters of the Royalist army. York was besieged by Parliamentaries and Scottish forces in April 1644, and despite being relieved in July, was reinvested after the Royalist defeat at Marston Moor, surrendering on July 16th. The walls were partly destroyed in the civil war siege of York but were subsequently repaired. Restored in the 1830s.


Grid reference Not recorded
Map sheet Not recorded
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


No mapped location recorded.

Type and Period (13)

Full Description

It is possible that an earthern mound was constructed in the 11th or 12th cent., these defences being strengthened in 1215. The erection of stone walls began c.1250.

In 1644 the walls were much shattered during the siege, but have been restored and are complete except in three short stretches, along the front of Museum Gardens, S.W. of Bootham Bar, and between the Old Baile and the river.

The stretch between Fishergate Postern and the present bank of the foss wass filled by the river until 1793. The wall, gates, etc are scheduled. (2,3)

Published survey (OS 1:1250 1961/62) of earthworks revised. (4)

Approximately 25 ft of low wall to north of No 9 (St Leonard's Place) (west side). Grade I. Roman. A low wall of restored heavy masonry approximately 25 ft in length which is a fragment of the south-west wall of the early C4 Roman Fortress.

Wall to south of footpath running from No 9 to Tower Street. (Tower Place). Grade II*. Late medieval appearance, the east part possibly a fragment of city wall. (5)

City wall, gates, posterns, moat and mounds incl. Bayle Hill - Scheduled York SE 601524 - 605524. (6)

The gunports in the walLs are of five clear types, and date to the second half of the 15th century. (7)

Full architectural description of the Mediaeval defences. Three types of interval tower are present, the semi-circular dating to 1266-1318, the rectangular from circa 1300-1349, and the demi-hexagonal from 1300-1449. (8)

CBA research reports 58-9 14 - 1975 Medieval Towns in England and Wales. Council for British Archaeology

1 Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date) OS 1:1250 1961/2
2 A history of Yorkshire: the city of York 510-4 1961 (Tillott) edited by P M Tillott
3 Scheduled Monument Notification List Anc Mons 1961 106 (MOW)
4 Field Investigators Comments Emsley, R W 06-Jun-63 RCHME Field Investigation
5 List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest DOE (HHR) City of York N Yorks June 1983 289 and 354
6 List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest DOE (HHR) AMs Eng 1 1977 64
7 Fort : the international journal of fortification and military architecture 85 4, 1977 Fortress Study Group
8 An inventory of the historical monuments in the City of York. Volume II: the defences Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, England

NMR Related Objects

AF1189556 RCHME: Vale of York NMP, SE 65 SW
BF061948 York City Wall, York
OP07537 The city walls in York looking north-east towards York Minster

RCHME, 1972, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York, Volume II The Defences (Monograph). SYO63.

1980, Who saved York Walls? The roles of William Etty and the Corporation of York (Article in serial). SYO3089.

City of York Council, 1991, 1991 City Walls Structural Survey (Unpublished document). SYO2265.

PLB, 2004, York City Walls Conservation Management Plan (Unpublished document). SYO1733.

PLB, 2004, York City Walls Interpretation and Access (Unpublished document). SYO1734.

NMR, 2019, NMR data (Digital archive). SYO2214.

Donald Insall Associates, 2021, York City Walls Conservation Management Plan (Unpublished document). SYO2629.

Sources/Archives (7)

  • --- Unpublished document: PLB. 2004. York City Walls Conservation Management Plan.
  • --- Unpublished document: PLB. 2004. York City Walls Interpretation and Access.
  • --- Digital archive: NMR. 2019. NMR data.
  • --- Unpublished document: City of York Council. 1991. 1991 City Walls Structural Survey.
  • --- Unpublished document: Donald Insall Associates. 2021. York City Walls Conservation Management Plan.
  • --- Article in serial: 1980. Who saved York Walls? The roles of William Etty and the Corporation of York.
  • --- Monograph: RCHME. 1972. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York, Volume II The Defences.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (81)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Apr 5 2024 2:29PM


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