York: Why York
We stood outside York Minster. “I don’t think I want to go in; I’ve seen enough churches full of dead people,” I said.
“Well, we are here. I think you should come in,” said hubby.
So I did and I am pleased so say I am glad I did so. Not for the Minster so much; yes, all very nice, lots of statues, stained glass, dead people and loads of history but what made this quite mind boggling for me was to go down under the Minster into the Under-croft and soak up the 2,000 years of history tucked away down there. THAT was worth the visit to York Minster!
In 1967 work began on the foundations of York Minster to underpin the Central Tower which was in danger of collapse. During the excavations evidence of the Roman settlement Eboracvm was uncovered. This had been the site of a Roman Fort and barracks for Roman soldiers established in 71 AD. If that was not enough, there is also evidence of the 9th century Viking settlement of Jorvik, an Anglo Saxon cemetery and foundations of the earlier Norman Minster built on this site before the building of the current Gothic style Minster which began around 1220.
The result of all this is an amazing museum showcasing through archaeology and artefacts layers of power, culture, religion and history colliding. Revealing York Minster opened to visitors in 2013 and makes a visit to the Minster very worthwhile if in York.
Outside York Minister is a statue of Constantine the Great who in 306 was proclaimed Emperor of Rome whilst in the city of York. This was a key turning point in the history of Christianity as it was Constantine who granted Roman toleration for the Christian Church, thus halting Christian persecution and turning accepted worship from pagan gods to Christ.
We also visited Jorvik Viking Centre. Between 1976 and 1981 archaeologists discovered houses, workshops and backyards of the 1000 year old Viking age city of Jorvik. At the underground Jorvik Viking Centre visitors travel in a little carriages through the excavated village where the citizens hold conversations in Old Norse and engage in everyday life complete with the sounds and smells of farmyard animals, fish, roasting boar, burning logs, molten iron, blacksmithing and the smells of the market with open air animal slaughter and human smells; all of them not that pleasing to the nostrils.
We entered York at the Micklegate Bar, the most important of York’s medieval gateways. In centuries past the severed heads of rebels and traitors were unceremoniously displayed above the gate but this practice ended in 1754.
We wandered The Shambles and walked the city walls. Actually, I loved the city of York and am so thankful for all the experiences our visit there afforded; even going into the Minster!