Medieval City Defences

The Keep in the 1940s (c)

The king was concerned with the threat from Scotland and the city council wanted a tight grip on trade within the walls, so there were two good reasons to update the defences.

York Castle reinforced

In about 1244 Henry III had the wooden Norman castle rebuilt in stone, including a new keep, a hall, chapel, prison and offices.

The stone keep is still there today and is now known as Clifford’s Tower.  Parts of the castle walls are also still standing.

City Walls

Perhaps inspired by King Henry III’s rebuilding of the castle, York’s city fathers began to do the same to the city walls from about 1250.

Certainly by 1315 most of the circuit was apparently finished.  A tax called murage was levied by the Corporation to fund these expensive works, it was paid on goods entering the city gates.

The height of the walls is estimated at about 12ft.  On the inside there was a narrow ledge for archers, as can still be seen at Tower Place.  For more on the City Walls click here.

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