Monument record MYO4698 - YORK CITY WALLS Rampart between Fishergate Bar and Fishergate Postern Tower

Summary

The walls between Fishergate Postern and Tower 39 were initially built in the 14th century possibly on top of a pre-existing rampart replacing a wooden palisade. The lower part of the walls we see now is original to the 14th century. The parapet and some of the upper wall is Victorian. Drawings and written records survive which indicate there are gritstone arches as foundations, perhaps along the lines of those now visible between Walmgate Bar and the Red Tower. The RCHME comments that such arches were to help stability in areas where the ramparts were liable to slip. 19th century drawings shows that the exterior rampart fell away quite steeply outside Tower 39. Horsley's map of 1694 shows that there was a ditch at the foot of the external rampart between Tower 39 and Fishergate Postern Tower.

Location

Grid reference Centred SE 6072 5127 (108m by 70m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Civil Parish York, City of York, North Yorkshire

Map

Type and Period (1)

Full Description

References on this area of rampart (between Fishergate Bar and Fishergate Postern Tower) from Royal Commission Vol II The Defences

The contract of 1345 for building the stone wall from Fishergate Bar to the Foss implies that the wall was to be built on an old earth rampart and the existence in c1155 of a Walmgate Bar suggests that this gate was on the line of the present walls. [p10]

The walls in 1315 were therefore complete for the whole of the Micklegate and central areas except for the Old Baile. This and the Walmgate area were still defended by the old wooden palisades. [p13]

In December 1322 the king also issued a protection until the following Michaelmas to a party sent by the mayor and commonalty with four carts to carry stone for repairing the walls from Thevesdale quarry to the Wharfe at Tadcaster. [p13]

In 1345 the city took in hand the Walmgate defences and made a contract with a mason, Master Thomas de Staunton, for the construction of 20 perches of stone wall between the Fishergate Bar and the Foss. The specified height of 6 ells (22.5 ft.) may be compared with the 18 ft. planks of the Old Baile’s defences. The work was to be paid for at the rate of £7 a perch, the provision for payment assumed that it would be completed in about 2.25 years. [Page 13]

The removal of the earth from the base of the walls, which presumably exposed the foundation arches in the Walmgate sector, revealed the general shallowness of their footings. [Page 29]

The city wall from Fishergate Bar to Fishergate Postern, a length of some 500 ft. (about 22 of the 6 ell perches specified in the contract), is uniform at the base with a distinctive chamfered plinth and well-coursed ashlar masonry. It has a large rectangular tower (39) at the projecting angle, of the same build as the wall, and a smaller added tower, also rectangular, between this angle and Fishergate Bar. This length of wall is no doubt the work of Thomas de Staunton. [Page 15]

The arches visible at the base of the Walmgate wall were intended to support it on the shifting rampart. [Page 40]

The wall between Tower 39 and Fishergate Postern is build of large ashlar blocks on which are several mason’s marks. The rampart has been considerably lowered near the postern so the plinth is in some places 8ft above its summit. Two buttresses of pink limestone have been added to the wall after the bank was lowered. An engraving of 1834 shows foundation arches exposed adjoining the postern [Lockwood H F and Cates A H (1834) “The History and Antiquities of the Fortifications to the City of York”, page 48]; perhaps these are the features described as ‘some remains of Roman masonry, principally arches of gritstone’ [Thomas Allen ‘A New and Complete History of the County of York (1828), volume 1, page 251 (searched online and there is no sign of this reference on page 251)]. The inner face is a uniform rebuild, presumably of the 19th century, with ‘YCB’ and ‘YC’ cut into the stones in three places together with distances in feet, indicating the boundary of the city property. In 1829 60 yds of wall in this area were rebuilt, stones from the upper part apparently being used to fill gaps and the height being thus reduced. A drawing of c1825 shows a round-headed archway on the inside face of the wall about 40 ft S. of the postern, but there is now no sign of this. [Pages 153-6]

Fishergate Postern, first mentioned in 1440 as ‘posternam iuxta Skarletpit’ and later termed ‘posterna iuxta ecclesiam Sci. Georgii’, was called by the present name from 1548… The Scarlet Pit of the earliest reference was apparently a pool in the Foss. The postern, probably reset in the 16th century… [Page 156]

19th century drawings shows that the exterior rampart fell away quite steeply outside Tower 39.
Horsley's map of 1694 shows that there was a ditch at the foot of the external rampart between Tower 39 and Fishergate Postern Tower.

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Record last edited

Sep 15 2022 1:50PM

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