Ike pussyfoots his way along York Walls Part 1 – Walmgate Bar to Fishergate Postern

Regular readers will remember Helen & Traff from Ike’s Iceland Adventure earlier this year. Throughout 2020 Helen & Traff have been exploring walks and green spaces close to their house. Now Ike is joining them for a few days and they are taking him along to some of their favourite places.

As an introduction to the city of York, Helen and Traff took Ike for a walk around the City Walls.  The Romans first built a wall around their fort in 71 AD, but most of the walls today are the 700 year old medieval walls with walkways rebuilt by the Victorians to allow the public to use them safely. The walls run for 2.1 miles (3.4 km).

After checking the rules for the walls, Ike was ready to go!

Walmgate Bar to Fishergate Postern

 Ike started at Walmgate Bar, one of 4 major entry points to the city. A lot of streets in York are called ‘-gate’, from the Viking word ‘gata’ (street) and “Bar’ which comes from the physical barriers that the gateways used.

So in York “the streets are called gates, the gates are called bars and the bars are called pubs! “

Walmgate Bar is the only bar that still has a Barbican, as well as oak doors and a portcullis, showing the defences York had when the walls were used to keep out would-be-attackers. Ike thought that you’d have needed a big army to get through.

The Walls are almost entirely built of magnesium limestone quarried 10 miles away in the town of Tadcaster, with “York stone’ walkways from near Bradford.

 At Fishergate Bar (one of 2 minor bars), Ike investigated some pink stones where the Bar was attacked and set on fire in 1489, the damage being so bad it was bricked up for 340 years.

The first section of the walls end at Fishergate Postern. A postern is a small gateway that could easily be sealed up if needed so the tower here was for collecting tolls (called Murage) from traders, which in turn paid for the upkeep of the wall. The wall ends here as the river used to reach all the way to the tower, something the postern tower makes use of by having a garderobe (toilet) directly over the river – Ike would not have been looking up here in the 16th Century!

Come back tomorrow for the next section of York Walls.

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