29 photos from the past showing York’s old defensive walls -from York Explore Archives [a searchable on-line resource],
put into a Flickr album for the 2020 York Walls Festival
What follows is, for each photo, the start of the Explore’s caption followed by the question (given as a Flickr ‘comment’) followed by an answer.
Excavation of the Roman Corner Tower off Aldwark (a few yards south of Monk Bar), 1920s.
something has been added to the wall-walk here since this photo was taken -what? ANSWER = railings –and an information board about Roman walls.
Two electric trams outside the railway station during the 1920s.
what is unusual about the top of the tower in the city walls shown in this photo? ANSWER = it goes back in steps.
Fishergate Postern and a view across the city, 1853.
how is what Explore’s caption tells us about the ‘The Postern’s roof’ not strictly true? ANSWER = the posterns were minor gateways into the city, in this case its tower was beside it, not above and around it.
The Red Tower on the city walls near Foss Islands Road, 1853.
what seems to be special about the ‘bricks’ this tower is built of? ANSWER = they seem very thin (zoom in on the left corner), more like modern floor tiles.
Crane pictured in front of Clifford’s Tower, 1935.
from where the photographer was standing, what historic feature had been hidden by the prison walls? ANSWER = the motte (=hill) the tower was built on.
Archway at the old railway station, 1920s.
how did this bit of the city walls and this arch look different then from now? ANSWER = darker, sootier, a coal-powered train is shown too.
Station Road and NER Offices pictured from the city walls, 1900s.
what protection did this part of the ramparts have at this time? ANSWER = railings can be seen at street level.
Old railway area near Lendal Bridge, inside the walls, c.1868.
where was an archway through the city walls enlarged to give access to this ‘coal dept’? ANSWER = at North Street Postern, Barker Tower.
North Street Postern and Barker Tower, 1860s.
how has this tower been taken back to the Middle Ages since this photo was taken? ANSWER = the chimney stack has been removed and the extension on the left cut back to make it basically a round tower.
City walls adjoining Fishergate Postern, c.1900.
on the ramparts here, 3 or 4 metres from the wall-walk, seems to be a row of… what? ANSWER = toilets at the end of back yards.
These children are in front of Fishergate Postern, c.1910.
where is there an alarming-looking crack? ANSWER = sloping crookedly down the whole tower through the windows.
Sheep being driven through Walmgate Bar, 1910s.
is this how the bars got their name (from ‘baa’)? ANSWER = no, they were ‘barram’ in medieval documents.
Harlot Hill Tower (Tower 31) on the city walls near Monk Bar, 1870.
what ‘restoration’ was done to this tower 1877-8? ANSWER = the house and battlements were removed and 2 little side turrets added)
Monk Bar, with lowered portcullis, in about 1910.
what sticks out a little on the left from the bar’s first floor ? ANSWER = the wall of a toilet or garderobe.
View from Exhibition Square across to Bootham Bar and York Minster, 1870s.
how many decades had this view been available in the 1870s? ANSWER = four, in the 1830s Bootham Bar barbican, a length of city wall and other buildings were demolished.
Bootham Bar seen from the Exhibition Building, c.1870.
how does the photo tell us that the present walk round the city walls was not yet open? ANSWER = the present steps up to the bar and wall-walk aren’t there.
Windmill Inn, probably taken by William Pumphrey, early 1850s.
what gateway through the city walls is behind the buildings near the stone footings of St George’s chapel? ANSWER = Fishergate Postern.
Clifford’s Tower, 1880s. …before the prison wall was demolished in the 1930s.
what was removed to build the wall in the foreground? ANSWER = the lowest slopes of the motte (=hill) William the Conqueror had built for his castle here.
Sheep grazing on the moat separating the city walls from Lord Mayor’s Walk, 1900s.
could the public walk this part of the moat as at present? ANSWER = probably not, there seems no path or way through the fence.
Women walking on the city walls in about 1880.
this classic view is not from beside the battlements, where is it from? ANSWER = the top of the steps up by Station Road arch.
City walls at Lord Mayor’s Walk, c.1850.
what suggests that a wall-walk here was used for pleasure before the restoration here in 1888? ANSWER = one of the embrasures in the battlements seems to have had safety bars added.
Clifford’s Tower and demolition of York Prison, c.1935.
what has gone from the tower’s motte (=hill) since this photo was taken? ANSWER = trees (and is that a tunnel going into the bottom of the motte?).
Micklegate Bar, 1860s.
this wall of the bar was only 40 year old at this time, what does it do towards the top? ANSWER = it sticks out a little, overhangs.
Aerial view of York labelled ‘York from 1750ft’, c.1910s.
the thin white line of the city walls shows a strange ‘salient’ sticking out -where? ANSWER = just south of Fishergate Postern Tower.
City walls and NER War Memorial, c.1930. The mound of the city walls had to be partially removed to create the space for the NER War Memorial
where else in this picture has ‘the mound of the city walls’ been ‘partially removed’? ANSWER = at the 2 roads archways through the city walls, and also on the right, where land has been built up for the approach to Lendal Bridge.
City walls looking north to Walmgate Bar, 1930s.
what has been removed since the 1930 to improve the look of the city walls here? ANSWER = telephone wires and poles.
City walls on Barbican Road, 1920s.
what has been added to the ramparts (=’mound’) since this photo was taken? ANSWER = sloping grassland at the bottom then flat ground with trees.
Jewbury, 5 March 1956.
just to the left of this photo something was slowly falling apart in the 1820s -what? ANSWER = Layerthorpe Postern.
Aerial view, from near St George’s Field, c.1910. The photograph shows the prison complex
Explore’s caption mentions the ‘castle walls’ and ‘castle wall’ -what is it really writing about? ANSWER = : the prison walls –but these were built in the style of castle walls and enclosed the old castle keep.
Simon Mattam 15.8.20