visityorkorgexplore The story of Roman York ork is a city almost 2000 years old founded when the Roman 9th Legion built their fortress on the northeast bank of the river Ouse sometime around AD71 The legion were sent north from Lincoln to rescu
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Roman York On the trail of Yorks lost legions www
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Roman YorkOn the trail of York's lost legionswww.visityork.org/explore
The story of Roman York
The Legionary Fortress of Eboracum
In outline the plan of the fortress resembled a playing card.Initially, it was defended by a ditch and earthen rampart with
The 6th Legion became the new garrison at York and setabout reconstructing the buildings, walls, gates andtowers of the fortress in stone. An important civiliantown grew up around the main approach roads to thefortress. On the opposite bank of the Ouse, where the town wasprobably walled, archaeological excavations have uncoveredThere were also fine houses for wealthy people like Julia Velvawhose tombstone in the Yorkshire Museum shows her dining, asone did in polite society, while reclining on a couch.
political and economic system in the west hadcollapsed and Britain ceased to be part of theEmpire. As far as is known, both the fortress andtown at York were soon almost completelydeserted. Archaeologists have found that signs of life did noteturn to the ancient city until around AD600 but in 627 Yorketurned to documented history when, as the Venerable Bedetells us, King Edwin of Northumbria was baptised here.
ombstone of Lucius
1. Bootham Bar is one of YorkÕs four medieval city gates,but it stands on the site of one of the main gates of theRoman fortress (porta principalis dextra). A visitor in Romantimes looking out of the gate would have seen a greatstraight road, now followed by modern Bootham, headingnorth-west and eventually going as far as HadrianÕs Wall.On either side of the road lay Roman cemeteries with theirsplendid tombstones and grand mausoleums.
Location for the start of the walk which is 10 minutes walk from the Railway Station, close tocar parks at Marygate and Union Terrace and very close to the Park & Ride terminus onMusuem Street (Green Line).
Startof theBootham Bartrail is at The
On the trail of YorkÕs lost legions2. St LeonardÕs Place
In the car park next to the council offices is a smallpiece of the Roman fortress wall which was brokenthrough when the street was created in 1834.
3. Museum Gardens
A dramatic feature of the Museum Gardens is the Multangular Towerwhich stood at the west corner of the Roman fortress. The lower partis original Roman work, identifiable by the small rectangular facingstones. The upper part, identifiable by larger blocks, is medieval, theesult of rebuilding the tower as part of the city defences. there was another, matching tower at the south corner of the fortress(under Feasegate). Between the two corners were six great intervaltowers facing the river along the line of the fortress wall. Finestretches of this wall, standing to almost full original height, can beseen either side of the Multangular Tower. A detail to look for is theband of red tiles in the middle of the wall face which appearsdecorative to us but actually served to bind the structure together. The Multangular Tower and the other towers may have been built atthe command of the emperor Septimius Severus who ruled the entireRoman Empire from York in AD 208-11. Like politicians today, Romanemperors liked to build grand structures to show the world howpowerful they were!
Head pot used for burialake a look inside the Multangular Tower
Roman Streets and DefensesMedieval City Walls
5. Gateway to the fortress, St HelenÕs Square
St HelenÕs Square is the site of the main south-west entrance (porta praetoria)to the Roman fortress. Standing here in Roman times you would have seen agreat double-arched gate flanked by towers. Looking out of the gate (in thedirection of the Mansion House and Post Office) you would have seen the riverOuse with warehouses and wharves along its banks. They would have buzzedwith activity as ships offloaded goods from all over the Roman Empire like finetableware, wine and olive oil from Mediterranean lands, and then prepared toeturn with grain from the rich farmland around York.Close to the line of modern Stonegate, there was a Roman street (via praetoria)with buildings tightly packed on either side leading to the great legionaryheadquarters where the Minster now stands.
4. The Yorkshire museum
The museum gardens are also home to one of the finest collections ofRoman artefacts in Britain. The Yorkshire Museum recalls in fascinatingRoman Samian Ware from York
6. The Roman Bath, St SampsonÕs Square
Discovered underneaththe aptly named pub in 1930 were the remains of the fortress bathhouse. ThisÐ a Ôleisure centreÕ in our terms. When it came to washing the Romans did notuse soap, but sweated dirt out by vigorous exercise and by spending time inthe caldarium. This was a room heated to a high temperature by a system ofunderfloor channels (a hypocaust) part of which can still be seen underneaththe pub. The batherÕs next step was to scrape off the sweat and dirt using aServing the baths was a great stone-built sewer which still survives undernearby Church Street. In the silt which filled the sewer, archaeologists foundsome gold trinkets, probably dropped by officersÕ wives who were permittedThe Roman sewer underneath Church Street
7. Minster Gates
The junction of Petergate and Stonegate lies on the site of the junction of thetwo most important streets of the Roman fortress, the via praetoria whichled to the main gate (St HelenÕs square), and the via principalis which joinedthe north-west and south-east gates (at Bootham Bar and KingÕs Square).
8. The Minster
Opposite the south door of York Minster there stands a great Roman columnnearly 8m high. It was found by archaeologists digging in 1967 Ð 72underneath the Minster tower. The column had originally been one of sixteensupporting the roof of YorkÕs greatest Roman building, the basilica of thefortress headquarters. The basilica was about 70m long and stood as high,perhaps, as the Minster nave. This is where a legionary commander, or evenan emperor, could address his troops and it is quite likely that in this very hallConstantine the Great was proclaimed Emperor in the year 306. In theMinster Undercroft you can see the base of another column still in its originalposition along with other finds from the excavations. archaeologists beneath the Minster
9. Roman Ghosts in the TreasurerÕs
street, Chapter House Street, runs along oneside of the TreasurerÕs House, close to theline of an important Roman street (viaof the fortress. The Roman street itself formseasurerÕs House, which is now open tovisitors. It was here that one of the strangeststories in YorkÕs history began. In 1953 ayoung local man, Harry Martindale, wasworking in the cellar when he heard thesound of a trumpet. He turned to see a groupof Roman soldiers walk out of the wall and continue past him. Later, hedescribed how the soldiersÕ legs were not visible below the knee. After beingridiculed Harry stopped telling his story, but in 1954 excavations showed thata series of cobbled street surfaces had built up during and since the Romanperiod making sense of HarryÕs claim! The ghostly soldiers were presumablywalking on the earliest and deepest street level!
This guide has been published by the First Stop York tourism partnership. Every effort has been made toensure that details are correct at the time of going to print (May 2004) and we cannot be held responsiblefor any errors or omissions. Copyright for all the text in this leaflet belongs to City of York Council.
times. All around are clues to its past. Walking through the streets ofarchitecture and archaeology at every turn. Exploring York walking trails are available from the Tourist InformationCentres and other outlets in York. All the trails are available online from,
find out more about Roman York
The Yorkshire Museum
01904 687687The Roman Festival
The Archaeological Resource Centre (ARC)01904 543403
ourist Information Centre
book accommodation in York and for all other visitor enquiries;el: 01904 621756 Website:
Park and Ride Bus Services
Buses run every 10 minutes or lessWhite Line (from Askham Bar on the A64)01904 883100ellow Line (from Grimston Bar on the A1079)01904 883090Green Line (from Rawcliffe Bar on the A19)01904 883990Red Line (from the Designer Outlet A19 / A64)01904 551400
Shopmobility / Disabled Access
isitors are welcome to use the excellent facilities of the Shopmobilityscheme. Scooters, powered wheelchairs or manual wheelchairs are
Useful Telephone Numbers
¥ All emergencies 999¥ York Police Station01904 631321¥ York District Hospital 01904 631313¥ Lost property city centre 01904 551677
First Stop York would like to acknowledge the invaluable contributions made to thisguide by Patrick Ottaway, Keith Mulhearn & RoaminÕ Tours, Janet Hewison, MelanieBaldwin and Mike Griffiths. Images of the Constantine coin, Mars, Julia Velva andLucius Duccius Rufinus statuary by permission of York Museums Trust (YorkshireMuseum). Reconstructions and photos of artefacts courtesy of York Archaeologicalust. Roman Column courtesy of the Minster Archive. Roman Festival 2003 photoscopyright of Keith Meadley Photography. Excavations at Aldwark Tower courtesy ofwww.imagineyork.co.uk . Design by PictureDrum 01904 700673.
11. The City Walls, Monk Bar to Bootham
From Monk Bar you can return to Bootham Bar by walking in the footstepsof EboracumÕs Roman defenders as this section of the city walls standsexactly where the Roman fortress defences stood almost 2000 years ago.
10. Aldwark - The East Corner of the Fortress
From the city walls near Monk Bar you can see the remains of the eastcorner tower of the Roman fortress, the site of YorkÕs first archaeologicalexcavation in the 1920s. Clearly visible are three walls of a corner towermore than 18 centuries old which may originally have stood as much as 7-8m high. From here in Roman times you would have seen rows and rows ofthe long, low barrack buildings where the soldiers lived.
Excavation of the Aldwark Tower
A Roman coin featuring the head of Constantine
Roman York On the trail of Yorks lost legions www - Description
visityorkorgexplore The story of Roman York ork is a city almost 2000 years old founded when the Roman 9th Legion built their fortress on the northeast bank of the river Ouse sometime around AD71 The legion were sent north from Lincoln to rescu ID: 5849 Download Pdf
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