Eboracum was founded in 71 AD and the original walls were built around this time as defences when the Roman Empire erected a fort. These walls existed for near eight centuries until the Danish Vikings invaded and buried them beneath an earth bank. The stone walls existing today replaced a wooden palisade in the 13th and 14th centuries, stretching over two miles and encompassing the medieval city and its castle.
The walls include four main gates, or Bars, six secondary gates and a further 44 towers. By the late eighteenth century, the walls were no longer in use and there was no threat of invasion. The Corporation of York requested for them to be demolished, as they were in such poor condition and hindered the expansion of the city. London, among other cities, had their walls destroyed around this time. York was an exception due to great opposition and by the mid-1800s the Corporation was forced to back down. Despite the call for restoration and preservation, some parts of the wall were too badly run-down to be saved, which is why there are several gaps between sections of wall. Today the walls are well looked after and spring flowers have been planted on the old Viking embankment. All surviving sections of the wall are open to the public and a complete circuit of the walls takes an average of two hours. The metal railings on the left-hand side of the photo above are a very recent edition to the wall, only introduced in the last 50 years for the public’s safety.
At Monk Bar, the gate in the distance in the photo above, there is the Richard III Experience, named so because the top floor was added during his reign, and at Micklegate Bar there is the Henry VII Experience, where monarchs entered the city for almost 1,000 years. Here the public can learn more about York during the reign of these two monarchs and how life changed with the end of the Plantagenet rule and the dawn of the Tudors.