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David Ford, History EditorTours > Ancient York

City Walls
Encircling the central portion of the city
by David Nash Ford BA, Editor, History on Britannia

The City Walls at York The medieval walls of York are the most complete circuit of city walls in the UK. Its four impressive gates, or 'bars', and almost all its ramparts are open for walking around the city in daylight hours. There are three major stretches: from Layerthorpe Bridge to Bootham Bar, from the Barker Tower to Baile Hill and from the Fishergate Postern Tower to the Red Tower: a walk of almost two miles with spectacular views!

Generally the six-foot wide wall stands to a height of thirteen feet. The massive ditch was only ever water-filled around Walmgate Bar. Built of Magnesian Limestone, mostly in the 13th century, to replace a wooden Norman palisade, some of the walls still contain reused Roman gritstone which betray their very early origins. Originally a defensive measure, they later became an important trade barrier which enabled the controlled collection of taxes.

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