Thursday, February 24, 2011

16-17 May 2008: Trip to York, England (the other half of the Edinburgh Trip)

York is one of those seemingly insignificant little towns. When we first arrived, I remember my initial reaction being one of irritation and complete disinterest. Amazingly, in the end York turned out to be one of my favorite cities we visited. The city lies halfway between Edinburgh and London, which is why we stopped there on our way back from Edinburgh. Once we got there and settled into our hostel, Whitney, Jenny and I went on a walking tour around the York Wall (aka, the Bar Wall, aka the Roman Wall) with one of our professors and his family. (Traveling tip, avoid staying at the youth hostel in York if possible. It's ancient and smells like mildew. I don't remember it's name... but avoid it! YHA? That might be it.) One of the most fascinating parts of York is the wall that is still around it. Though it was a Roman wall in origin, very little of it is still part of the original Roman wall. Most of it is medieval rebuilding (even so, parts of it have still been around since the 1st century AD). The wall has four main gatehouses called Bars. The really big towers you see in the photos will be these bars.  Another interesting fact about York is

What is it with Guy Fawkes, anyway? He was a terrorist. Do people find him awesome because he lived in the past and is thus less real? Or because everyone secretly wants to blow up Parliament and he lived the dream (well, at least attempted to)? Perhaps I am missing pieces of the puzzle. Either way, Fawkes is a big thing in York. Have to say, that must have been a very painful way to die.

 Of course, then there is the incredible York Minster.  A minster is (n.) 1. a church actually or originally connected with a monastic establishment 2. any large or important church, as a cathedral (I recall the Minster being the latter, not the former). The present Minster was started in the early 12th century on the site of other, much cruder churches that had been built, decayed, and rebuilt since the 6th century. The Minster is the largest cathedral I saw and one of the largest in northern Europe. A tour guide in the nave told us the central tower of the Minster is over 200 feet high and weighs 16,000 metric tons (which translates into: 35,273, 961.95 lbs. In comparison, a Boeing 747-81 weighs 470,000 lbs without passengers and won't exceed 682,000 lbs with them). The cathedral is really an exquisite (and heavy!) piece of art.

This is part of the entryway we walked in, I think. I love the frieze. Saw so many beautiful friezes in Europe. I honestly can't remember where this was, but it is part of the Minster I am sure.

The grand and great Minster herself.

One of the famous windows with it's intact medieval glass. York Minster has the highest quantity of medieval glass in the world. I have no idea which window this is.

Down the nave
Looking up into the central tower
I remember walking into the Chapter House and being awed. Somehow, I can't find the video I shot in there... so I stole this image from Wikipedia.
The Rest of York in Her Grand and Ancient Glory 

Someone's ancient house. Notice anything a little off on the left side of it? Like the foot of wall jutting out of place?

Look at Bootham Bar.
Map of the Roman Wall

The wall of St Mary's Abbey, but the pictures of the abbey remains are farther down.

The little stones are Roman, I think. the big ones medieval.

It says "Roman Interval Tower. " This is where one was located.

From bottom to top: Roman Bank 1c-4c (c = century); Dark Ages Bank 5c-10c; Norman Bank 11c-12c; Medieval Bank 13c

Top is medieval, bottom w/ smaller stones Roman

The remains of St. Mary's Abbey

The King's Manor

This is incredible to me, the years of bricking up and creating new windows. This wall is a perfect example of all of Europe--love the old, but add the new.

Back to the city...
Another picture of Bootham Bar

View from the Wall
The little holes are where the wooden flaps attached to protect men on the battlement from arrows

York Minster from the Wall
The area around York, from the wall

Another view from the wall

Someone's backyard, from the wall

Our guide referred to this as "The Victorian Monstrosity." The Victorian's had a bad habit of ignoring history in favor of prettifying things.

Panorama from the wall

It reads: "MONK BAR: Probably so named after the monks of a neighbouring monastery, not as erroneously supposed after General Monk 1660. The vaulted chambers above were the Freemen's Prison. The Arms of England are quartered with those of France on outer side of Bar. The original portcullis still remains. This Bar is on line of Roman Wall, erected on Roman foundations in the 13th century and enlarged in the 15th century. Barbican removed 1825. The Bar completely restored 1953 and strengthened in 1979."
Me, Jessi, Whitney, and Jenny at Monk Bar

Under Monk Bar. Can you see the sealed door?

Front of Monk Bar

Back of Monk Bar

The below images are of the Holy Trinity Church off Goodramgate near the Minster. It was incredible. It hadn't been modernized at all, meaning no electricity, running water, heating or air conditioning. And it's still a functioning church from what I recall. It was a beast to take photos of, though, due to the lack of light.

Check out that rolling floor!

And again, back to the city...

An actual medieval city street called  "The Shambles."

Apparently she was married to a butcher and that's all I know.

mmmmm, chocolaty sweets!

I'd love to live on Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate.
Minster Gate Book Shop is right next to the Minster. They specialize in antique books (there was an original edition of Peter Pan illustrated by Rackham for £2000) I bought two very nice prints of Rackham's work from the Rhinegold and the Valkyrie. They are gorgeous. ( click here and here to see the two I bought)