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Walking through York and Two Thousand Years of History

Aug 17, 2007
The bathhouse was finished and ready for a most important visitor. The Legion was prepared with armour polished. Flags fluttered in the breeze bearing the symbols of a mighty power. Into the city rode Constantius Emperor of Rome. Alongside rides his son Constantine.

The journey is ill fated and Constantinus dies. Constantine is declared new Emperor of Imperial Rome and crowned. The year is 306 and the place is Eboracum, the great city known today as York.

Constantine goes on to become the most influential Roman Emperor in history. He converted to Christianity and presided over the writing of the Nicean Creed, which formed the basic religious dogma of the Christian world.

York Minster
The spot where Constantine was crowned can be found beneath York Minster. Walking into this colossal space takes your breath away. As you strain your neck to see the high vaulted ceilings, you wonder at the people who built such awesome gothic structures.

Those who began work on it would not live to see it completed 250 years later. You can spend hours here looking at the stain glass windows and reading burial inscriptions or sitting in quiet reflection at the dedication of the people who built such monuments to God.

The Shambles
A visit to the Shambles takes you to the oldest and most famous street in York. It is extremely narrow and the houses are tightly packed together seeming to touch at the top. They seem to have been built for tiny people so watch your head when entering. Look down for the original hooks used for cleaning boots.

The word 'Shambles' originally means 'butcher' and in medieval times the street was full of butchers' shops. One of the wives of these butcher's was St Margaret Clitherow who was martyred in 1586. You need to look out or you might miss a tiny shrine dedicated to her memory.

Jorvik Viking Centre
It is well worth visiting the Jorvik Viking Centre where you can experience the sights, sounds and smells of Viking York.

A superb series of reconstructions bring the world of the Vikings to life. Experience archaeology in action with the simulated dig. Great fun for kids of all ages!

Castle Museum
The Castle Museum was originally a female and debtors prison. Since 1935 it has been home to the collections of Dr. J. T. Kirk who donated them to the city of York. Here you can walk down a Victorian cobbled street complete with hansom cab or visit authentic shop fronts displaying wares from the period.

For those interested in all things military, there is an impressive collection of firearms, uniforms and medals. Children will be fascinated by the collection of children's toys.

Kings Manor
Dating back to the sixteenth century, Henry V111 and Catherine Howard are likely to have stayed here. It was the residence of the King's Council. Remains from the Tudor period still remain including an impressive fireplace. Today the building is part of the University of York.

The walled city of York has so much to offer with historical landmarks at every turn. It is popular amongst tourists and gets very busy during the summer months. If you plan to stay overnight, do book somewhere to stay in advance. When I went, I ended up staying in a motorway hotel as literally everywhere was booked up!
About the Author
Ann Coveney is a freelance writer and part time school teacher. She can be hired to write articles on a wide range of topics. The web site she uses the most for low cost travel and hotel booking is http://www.AskVicki.co.uk
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