Scheduled Monument: York Minster cathedral precinct: including Bootham Bar and the length of City Walls extending round the precinct up to Monk Bar (1017777)

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National Ref 1017777
Date assigned Friday, October 8, 1937
Date last amended Thursday, May 20, 1993


Reasons for Designation The present cathedral church known as York Minster is at least the fourth major church to have stood on this site. The earliest ecclesiastical use of the site can be traced back to the early seventh century when Paulinus baptised King Edwin of Northumbria in a wooden oratory considered to have been located in the vicinity of the present Minster. This event was of particular importance as it marked the post-Roman rebirth of Christianity in northern Britain. As a result of the adoption of Christianity by the Northumbrian kings, a bishopric was established in York, this being one of the earliest such foundations in post-Roman England. Pre-Conquest cathedrals are a rare and poorly understood monument class, there having been only twenty-four known e xamples. York is of particular note because its chief incumbents were archbishops second in ecclesiastical authority only to the archbishops of Canterbury. Evidence for the ecclesiastical importance of York in the pre-Conquest period is provided by contemporary references to its library, the episcopal see and, in particular, its monastic school whose most famous pupil, Alcuin, became Charlemagne's adviser. This importance has been maintained down to the present day. Even during the Viking period, when York was conquered and became part of an independent Viking kingdom that lasted from 866 to 954, there was an unbroken succession of archbishops suggesting that the pagan Vikings quickly converted to Christianity. After the Norman Conquest, the see rose in power and prosperity when its Norman archbishops began a series of major building works which culminated in the construction of the present Minster in the thirteenth century and after. During the medieval period, the cathedral gained considerably from its position within a thriving and wealthy town; one of the most flourishing urban centres in England and the major town of the North. The wealth of York was reflected in the magnificent, extensive and costly building programme which characterised much of the cathedral precinct throughout the medieval period. These works were funded in part by pious donations and endowments to the church made by leading secular individuals. With the exception of the present Minster many of the buildings and features of the pre- and post-Conquest cathedral precinct are no longer visible. However, extensive below-ground deposits are known to survive across the majority of the precinct area. This is due in part to the fact that the area has remained largely in ecclesiastical hands since earliest times. This has limited development within the precinct; hence, below-ground archaeology survives here in much better condition than in other more intensively developed areas of the city. In some areas of the precinct, up to 4m of archaeological deposits are preserved. Because of this depth of stratigraphy, extensive remains will survive well beneath the present ground surface and will include not only those of the pre- and post-Conquest cathedrals and their ancillary buildings but also the Roman legionary fortress which formerly occupied the site and the remains of the seventeenth century Ingram Mansion. The survival of the Roman fortress is of particular note as it was one of the earliest military foundations in the north of England and also one of the most long-lived. It led to York being granted the status of colonia and also, in the fourth century, to it becoming, for a time, the Imperial capital of the Emperor Constantine. This and the degree to which its remains are preserved make it a monument of national importance in its own right. Details York Minster cathedral precinct is a multi-period site comprising a single area containing a number of nationally important archaeological features which also extend beyond the area of the scheduling. These include part of the Roman legionary fortress at Eboracum, the site of the Anglian and early Norman minsters, the sites of the Anglian and medieval churches of the Alma Sophia, St Sepulchre and St Mary ad Valvas, the sites of the medieval archbishops' palace and deanery, St William's College, the precinct boundary, gates and gatehouses, part of the City Wall including Bootham Bar, cemeteries dating from the ninth to fifteenth centuries, the site of the Ingram Mansion and the sites of the cathedral prebendal houses. The boundary of the scheduling has been drawn to identify the main area of the cathedral precinct. The legionary fortress, founded in AD71 by Petilius Cerialis, occupied a roughly square site on the north-east bank of the River Ouse above its confluence with the Foss. The cathedral precinct lies largely within the north quarter and includes the remains of barracks, the commandant's house, the principia or headquarters, sections of the road known as the Via Decumana and parts of the north-west and north-east walls. In the seventh and eighth centuries AD the Roman fortress was taken over as a royal centre by the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria. The principia survived in use as a palace down to c.AD800 and the commandant's house is thought to have been reused as the Anglian archbishop's residence. The fortress walls were maintained throughout the Anglian period and refortified with a new rampart and palisade during the Viking era. After the Norman Conquest the Viking defences were added to and, during the twelfth century, the four main city gateways, or Bars, were built. Of these, Bootham Bar lies adjacent to the Minster precinct at the junction of Bootham and High Petergate. The walls form the northern part of the cathedral precinct boundary while the southern part correlated with the boundaries of adjacent parishes. Four cathedral precinct gates were still extant in 1736: Peter Gate, the main gate at Minster Gates, a gate `in Ogleforth' and a gate at the junction of College Street and Goodramgate. The latter allowed access from the main precinct to the Bedern, a cluster of buildings which housed the Vicars Choral who supported the medieval cathedral canons in services in the Minster. Although a Bishop of York is known to have existed in AD314, no Roman church has so far been identified. The present see was founded in 625 when Paulinus, arriving from Kent to convert the Northumbrians to Christianity, built a small wooden church dedicated to St Peter within the Anglian royal centre. This church was restored and repaired several times in the succeeding centuries until, in 1069, work began on the first Norman minster. The remains of Paulinus's church and its Anglian and Viking successors have not yet been located, but fragments of sculpture have been recovered from the cemeteries of both periods and include seventh and eighth century grave-slabs, and Viking grave-markers have been excavated from beneath the south transept of the present Minster. Excavation has shown that the pre-Conquest cathedral does not underlie the Norman foundation and therefore it is presumed to lie either south of the south transept or north of the present church beneath Dean's Park. The latter is considered the most likely since it would explain the alignment of the medieval archbishops' palace which does not match that of the medieval church. The substantial stone foundations of the first Norman minster have, however, been found beneath the present church, overlying the north corner of the Roman principia and adjacent barrack blocks. Begun by Archbishop Thomas of Bayeux in 1069, this church was extended by Archbishop Roger of Pont l'Eveque in the mid-twelfth century. The present Minster dates from the second quarter of the thirteenth century and is not included in the scheduling, being in current ecclesiastical use. The remains of a number of churches dating to the Anglian and medieval periods are also known to survive within the cathedral precinct. These are the Alma Sophia, or church of the Holy Wisdom, built between 767 and 780 and so far not precisely located, the church of St Mary and the Holy Angels, also known as St Sepulchre, founded in the late twelfth century, and the church of St Mary ad Valvas, demolished in the 1380s. One wall of the latter was uncovered in the late 1960s, close to the east end of the Minster, and remains relating to St Sepulchre were found near the gate of the archbishops' palace, partially built over by the fourteenth century extension of the cathedral nave. The post-Conquest palace of Archbishop Thomas and his successors lay to the north of the Minster and comprised an open court surrounded by buildings. Its visible remains consist of six bays of a late twelfth century blind arcade, known as the `Cloister', and an L-shaped block to the north which housed the thirteenth century chapel and is now the Minster Library. Documentary sources refer to an aisled medieval hall, a south-west range and a buttressed building to the south-east of the chapel. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the palace fell out of use and, by 1600, had become ruinous. In 1618 the site was leased to Sir Arthur Ingram who incorporated the south-west range into a mansion known as York Palace. Plans and surveys show the layout of the mansion but, by the eighteenth century, this too was in ruins and was demolished and the site cleared in 1814. Other features of the cathedral precinct include the site of the medieval deanery, originally constructed in the reign of William II at the junction of Minster Yard and Deangate, St William's College, built in 1465 to provide accommodation for the chantry priests, and numerous prebendal houses, some of which, like St William's College and some of the service buildings of the deanery, are still extant or incorporated into current buildings. The remains of the medieval Treasurer's House survive beneath the extant seventeenth century building and adjacent Gray's Court while a late medieval cemetery lies around the east end of the current Minster. The current seventeenth century Treasurer's House is considered adequately protected by its Grade I Listed status and is not included in the scheduling, although the ground beneath is incorporated. This also applies to St Williams College, the Minster Library, Gray's Court and the present Minster, which are protected by Grade I Listed status. In addition other buildings, considered adequately protected by Listed status are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included: York College for Girls (Grade II*), the Minster Song School and the Purey-Cust Chambers (both Grade II), together with other buildings including private houses and premises Listed Grade I, II* and II). Also excluded from the scheduling are the present Deanery, the Purey-Cust Nursing Home, all buildings, the surfaces of all paths, roads and driveways, all modern walling and railings; all fixtures such as lamp-posts, bins, benches and signs, although the ground beneath all these exclusions is included. MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. Selected Sources Book Reference - Author: Addyman, P V (ed) - Title: The Archaeology of York - Date: 1972 - Type: EXCAVATION REPORT - Description: 19 volumes in progress Book Reference - Author: Aylmer, G E and Cant, R (eds) - Title: A History of York Minster - Date: 1977 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: Benson, G - Title: Later Medieval York - Date: 1919 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: With plans and illustrations Book Reference - Author: Drake, ? - Title: Eboracum - Date: 1736 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: Morris, R K - Title: Alcuin, York and the alma sophia - Date: 1986 - Journal Title: The Anglo Saxon Church - Volume: 60 - Page References: 80-89 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: Ordnance Survey - Title: Roman and Anglian York - Date: 1989 - Journal Title: Historical Maps and Guides - Type: MAP - Description: With descriptive text Book Reference - Author: Ordnance Survey - Title: Viking and Medieval York - Date: 1989 - Journal Title: Historical Maps and Guides - Type: MAP - Description: With descriptive text Book Reference - Author: Phillips, D - Title: The Cathedral of Archbishop Thomas of Bayeux - Date: 1985 - Journal Title: Excavations at York Minster - Volume: Vol II - Type: EXCAVATION REPORT Book Reference - Author: RCHM - Title: Eburacum, Roman York - Date: 1962 - Journal Title: York - Volume: VOL 1 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: RCHM - Title: The Central Area - Date: 1981 - Journal Title: York - Volume: vol V - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: RCHME - Title: City of York Volume II: The City Walls - Date: 1972 - Volume: II - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: Ryder, P - Title: Cathedral Close Reports: York - Date: 1990 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Unpublished Book Reference - Author: Victoria County History - Title: The City of York - Date: 1961 - Type: DESC TEXT Article Reference - Author: Butler, R M - Title: York Palace: a vanished Jacobean Mansion - Date: 1988 - Journal Title: York Historian - Volume: VIII - Page References: 25-45 - Type: DESC TEXT

External Links (1)

Sources (1)

  • Unpublished document: Ryedale Archaeology Services Ltd. 2014. Excavation in Deanery Garden.



Grid reference Centred SE 6033 5226 (444m by 408m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire

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Record last edited

Sep 24 2020 11:17AM


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