Monday, 17 August 2009

York/ Jorvic / Eoferwic: Place in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series ****

York (pronounced /ˈjɔrk/ ( listen)) is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence.

The city was founded by the pre-Roman Britons and named Eborakon, meaning "place of the yew trees". It was later called Eboracum in 71 AD by the Romans who made it the capital of their Province of Britannia Inferior. At the end of Roman rule in 415 AD the settlement was taken over by the Angles and the city was renamed Eoforwic. It served as the capital of the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria. When the Vikings captured the city in 866 AD they renamed it Jórvík and it became the capital of a wider kingdom of the same name covering much of Northern England. After the Norman conquest, the name "York", which was first used in the 13th century, gradually evolved. In the Middle Ages York grew as a major wool trading centre and the ecclesiastical capital of the northern province of England. The Province of York is still one of the two Church of England ecclesiastical provinces, alongside that of Canterbury.

River ouse at York

York's location on the River Ouse, in the centre of the Vale of York and half way between the capitals of London and Edinburgh means that it has long had a significant position in the nation's transport system. The 19th century saw York, under the influence of George Hudson, become an important hub of the railway network and a manufacturing centre. In recent decades the economy of York has moved from being dominated by its confectionery and railway-related industries to one that provides services. The University of York and health services have become major employers. Tourism also boosts the local economy because the city offers a wealth of historic attractions, of which York Minster is the most prominent, and a variety of cultural activities. York Racecourse and Kit Kat Crescent, the home of York City F.C., are the most prominent sporting venues in the city and the River Ouse provides opportunities for both sporting and leisure pursuits.
From 1996, the term City of York describes a unitary authority area which includes rural areas beyond the old city boundaries. In 2001 the urban area had a population of 137,505, while in 2007 the entire unitary authority had an estimated population of 193,300

York City Walls

The word 'York' comes from the Latin name for the city, variously rendered as Eboracum, Eburacum or Eburaci. The first mention of York by this name is dated to c. 95–104 AD as an address on a wooden stylus tablet from the Roman fortress of Vindolanda in Northumbria.
The toponymy of Eboracum is uncertain as the language of the pre-Roman indigenous population of the area was never recorded. These people are thought to have spoken a Celtic language, related to modern Welsh. Therefore, it is thought that Eboracum is derived from the Proto-Brythonic word Eborakon meaning either "place of the yew trees" (cf. yew = efrog in Welsh, eabhrac in Irish Gaelic and eabhraig in Scottish Gaelic, by which names the city is known in those languages) or perhaps "field of Eboras".
The name 'Eboracum' was turned into 'Eoforwic' by the Anglians in the 7th century. This was probably by conflation of 'ebor' with a Germanic root *eburaz (boar); by the 7th century the Old English for boar had become 'eofor', and Eboracum 'Eoforwic'. The 'wic' simply signified 'place'. When the Danish army conquered the city in 866, the name became rendered as 'Jórvík'.
Jórvík was gradually reduced to York in the centuries following the Norman Conquest, moving from the Middle English Yerk to Yourke in the 14th century through to Yourke in the 16th century and then Yarke in the 17th century. The form York was first recorded in the 13th century. Many present day names of companies and places, such as Ebor taxis and the Ebor race meeting, refer to the Roman name.

Early history

Roman wall and the west corner tower of the fort at York. The top half is medieval.

York Minster from city walls

Archaeological evidence suggests that Mesolithic people settled in the region of York between 8000 and 7000 BC, although it is not known whether these settlements were permanent or temporary. By the time of the Roman conquest of Britain, the area was occupied by a tribe known to the Romans as the Brigantes. The Brigantian tribal area initially became a Roman client state but later its leaders became more hostile to Rome. As a result the Roman Ninth Legion was sent north of the Humber into Brigantian territory.

The city itself was founded in 71 AD, when the Ninth Legion conquered the Brigantes and constructed a wooden military fortress on flat ground above the River Ouse close to its confluence with the River Foss. The fortress, which was later rebuilt in stone, covered an area of 50 acres (20 ha) and was inhabited by 6,000 soldiers. The site of the Roman fortress lies under the foundations of York Minster, and excavations in the Minster's undercroft have revealed some of the original walls.
The Emperors Hadrian, Septimius Severus and Constantius I all held court in York during their various campaigns. During his stay, the Emperor Severus proclaimed York capital of the province of Britannia Inferior, and it is likely that it was he who granted York the privileges of a colonia or city. Constantius I died in 306 AD during his stay in York, and his son Constantine the Great was proclaimed Emperor by the troops based in the fortress.
In the 7th century York became the chief city of the Anglian King Edwin of Northumbria. The first Minster church was built in York for the baptism of Edwin in 627. Edwin ordered that this small wooden church should be rebuilt in stone, but he was killed in 633 and the task of completing the stone Minster fell to his successor Oswald.

Alcuin's Head

In the following century Alcuin of York came to the cathedral school of York. He had a long career as a teacher and scholar, first at the school at York now known as St Peter's School, York, which was founded in 627 AD, and later as Charlemagne's leading advisor on ecclesiastical and educational affairs.

York Port

In 866, Northumbria was in the midst of internecine struggles when the Vikings raided and captured York. Under Viking rule the city became a major river port, part of the extensive Viking trading routes throughout northern Europe.

Eric Bloodaxe Coin

The last ruler of an independent Jórvík, Eric Bloodaxe, was driven from the city in the year 954 by King Edred in his successful attempt to complete the unification of England.

Post conquest

"The Shambles," a medieval street in York

In 1068, two years after the Norman Conquest of England, the people of York rebelled. At first the rebellion was successful but then William the Conqueror arrived and put down the rebellion. He at once built two wooden fortresses on mottes, which are still visible, on either side of the river Ouse. York was ravaged by him as part of the harrying of the North.
The first stone Minster church was badly damaged by fire in the uprising and the Normans later decided to build a new Minster on a new site. Around the year 1080 Archbishop Thomas started building a cathedral that in time became the current Minster. In the 12th century York started to prosper because of its position at the hub of an excellent communications network. It became a major trading centre and Hanseatic port. York merchants imported cloth, wax, canvas, and oats from the Low Countries, and exported grain to Gascony and grain and wool to the Low Countries. King Henry I granted the city's first charter, confirming trading rights in England and Europe.
In 1190, York was the site of an infamous pogrom of its Jewish inhabitants. The Jews sought sanctuary in Clifford's Tower, the fortification within the city belonging to the Crown. The mob besieged the trapped Jews for some days while preparations were made to storm the castle. Eventually a fire was started, whether by the Jews or their persecutors is uncertain, and 150 Jews lost their lives.

Tudor and Stuart times
The city underwent a period of decline during Tudor times. Under Henry VIII, the Dissolution of the Monasteries saw the end of the many monastic houses of York, along with their hospitals. This led to the Pilgrimage of Grace, an uprising of northern Catholics in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire who were opposed to religious reform. Henry VIII eventually reinstated the Council of the North in York, and this increased in importance under Elizabeth I, leading to a revival in the city's influence. Guy Fawkes who was born and educated in York was a member of a group of Roman Catholic restorationists that planned the Gunpowder Plot. Its aim was to displace Protestant rule by blowing up the Houses of Parliament while King James I and the entire Protestant and even most of the Catholic aristocracy and nobility were inside.
In 1644, during the Civil War, the Parliamentarians besieged York, and many medieval houses outside the city walls were lost. The barbican at Walmgate Bar was undermined and explosives laid but the plot was discovered. On the arrival of Prince Rupert, with an army of 15,000 men, the siege was lifted. The Parliamentarians retreated some 6 miles (10 km) from York with Rupert in pursuit, before turning on his army and devastatingly defeating it at the Battle of Marston Moor. Of Rupert's 15,000 troops, no fewer than 4,000 were killed and 1,500 captured. The siege was renewed, but the city could not hold out for long, and on 15 July the city surrendered to Sir Thomas Fairfax.
Following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, and the removal of the garrison from York in 1688, the city was dominated by the local gentry and merchants, although the clergy were still important. Competition from the nearby cities of Leeds and Hull, together with silting of the River Ouse, resulted in York losing its pre-eminent position as a trading centre, but the city's role as the social and cultural centre for wealthy northerners was on the rise. York's many elegant townhouses, such as the Lord Mayor's Mansion House and Fairfax House (now owned by York Civic Trust) date from this period, as do the Assembly Rooms, the Theatre Royal, and the Racecourse.

Modern history

The minster and war memorial seen from the Station Road walls

George Hudson was responsible for bringing the railway to York in 1839. Although Hudson's career as a railway entrepreneur eventually ended in disgrace, by this time, York was a major railway centre. At the turn of the 20th century, the railway accommodated the headquarters and works of the North Eastern Railway, which employed over 5,500 people in York. The railway was also instrumental in the expansion of Rowntree's Cocoa Works. Rowntree's was founded in York in 1862 by Henry Isaac Rowntree, who was joined in 1869 by his brother the philanthropist Joseph Rowntree. Terry's Confectionery Works was also a major employer in the city.
With the emergence of tourism as a major industry, the historic core of York became one of the city's major assets, and in 1968 it was designated a conservation area. The existing tourist attractions were supplemented by the establishment of the National Railway Museum in York in 1975. The opening of the University of York in 1963 added to the prosperity of the city. The fast and frequent railway service, which brings York within two hours journey time of London, has resulted in a number of companies opening offices in the city.
York was voted as European Tourism City of the Year by European Cities Marketing in June 2007. York beat 130 other European cities to gain first place, surpassing Gothenburg in Sweden (second) and Valencia in Spain (third).

Parliamentary constituencies
Most of York is covered by the City of York constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, though the outer parts of the city and local authority area fall within the Selby, Vale of York and Ryedale constituencies. These constituencies are represented by Hugh Bayley, John Grogan, Anne McIntosh and John Greenway, respectively. Following their review in 2002 of parliamentary representation in North Yorkshire, the Boundary Commission for England has recommended the creation of two new seats for the City of York at the next general election.
Both existing City of York and Vale of York seats will be abolished and replaced by two new constituencies, namely, York Central and York Outer. The Selby and Ryedale seats will no longer contain any York wards. The whole of the city and local authority area lies within the Yorkshire and the Humber constituency of the European Parliament

The Guildhall where members of the City of York Council meet

York lies within the Vale of York, a flat area of fertile arable land bordered by the Pennines, the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Wolds The original city was built at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss on a terminal moraine left by the last Ice Age.
During Roman times, the land surrounding the rivers Ouse and Foss was very marshy, making the site easier to defend. The city is prone to flooding from the River Ouse, and has an extensive (and mostly effective) network of flood defences. These include walls along the Ouse, and a liftable barrier across the River Foss where it joins the Ouse at the 'Blue Bridge'. In October and November 2000 York experienced the worst flooding in 375 years with over 300 homes being flooded. Much land in and around the city is on flood plains and has always been too flood-prone for development other than agriculture. The ings are flood meadows along the River Ouse, while the strays are open common grassland in various locations around the city.

York has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As with the rest of the Vale of York the city's climate is dryer and warmer than the rest of the Yorkshire and Humberside region. Because of its lowland location York is prone to frosts, fog, and cold winds during winter, spring and very early summer. In summer the average maximum temperature is 22 °C (72 °F) although some days can see highs of up to 28 °C (82 °F). Nights are significantly colder averaging minimum of 15 °C (60 °F), although these can consistently dip below 10 °C (50 °F). The average daytime temperature in winter is 7 °C (45 °F) and 2 °C (36 °F) at night. Snow can fall in winter from December onwards to as late as April but quickly melts. The wettest months are November, December and January with an average of 17 days per month with rainfall more than 0.25 millimetres (0.01 in). From May to July York experiences the most sunshine with an average of six hours per day. Extremes recorded at the University of York campus between 1998 and 2006, include a highest temperature of 33 °C (91.4 °F) and a lowest temperature of -6.9 °C (19.5 °F). The most rainfall in one day was 62.4 millimetres (2.5 in)

Economy Offices of Aviva in York

York's economy is based on the service industry, which in 2000 was responsible for 88.7% of employment in the city. The service industries in York include public sector employment, health, education, finance, information technology (IT) and tourism that accounts for 10.7% of employment. Unemployment in York is low at 4.2% in 2008 compared to the United Kingdom national average of 5.3%. The biggest employer in York is the City of York Council, with over 7,500 employees. Employers with more than 3,000 staff include Aviva (formerly Norwich Union Life), Selby and York Primary Care Trust, Shepherd Building Group (including Portakabin), and University of York. Other major employers include British Telecom, CPP Group Ltd (Card Protection Plan), Nestlé and a number of railway companies.
This is very different from the position of the economy as recently as the 1950s, when York's prosperity was based on chocolate manufacturing and the railways. This position continued until the early 1980s when 30% of the workforce were employed by just five employers and 75% of manufacturing jobs were in four companies. Most of the industry around the railway has gone, including the carriage works (known as Asea Brown Boveri or ABB at the time of closure) which at its height in 1880s employed 5,500 people but closed in the mid 1990s. York is the headquarters of the confectionery manufacturer Nestlé York (formerly Nestlé Rowntrees), and home to the KitKat and eponymous Yorkie bar chocolate brands. Terry's chocolate factory, makers of the Chocolate Orange, was also located in the city; but it closed on 30 September 2005, when production was moved by its owners, Kraft Foods, to Poland. However, the historic factory building can still be seen, situated next to the Knavesmire racecourse.
It was announced on 20 September 2006 that Nestlé would be cutting 645 jobs at the Rowntree's chocolate factory in York. This came after a number of other job losses in the city at Aviva, British Sugar and Terry's chocolate factory. Despite this, the employment situation in York remained fairly buoyant until the effects of the late 2000s recession began to be felt.
Since the closure of York's carriage-works, the site has been developed into the headquarters for CPP Group UK, Virgin Galactic and two housing schemes, one of which was a self-build project. York's economy has been developing in the areas of science, technology and the creative industries. The city has become a founding National Science City with the creation of a science park near the University of York. Between 1998 and 2008 York gained 80 new technology companies and 2,800 new jobs in the sector.

York Minster, the second largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, stands at the city's centre. York's centre is enclosed by the city's medieval walls, which are a popular walk. The entire circuit is about 3 miles (5 km), including a part where walls never existed, because the Norman moat of York Castle, formed by damming the River Foss, also created a lake which acted as a city defence. This lake was later called the King's Fishpond, as the rights to fish belonged to the Crown.

Clifford's Tower, a stone quatrefoil keep built on top of a Norman motte, was the site of a massacre in 1190 when the small Jewish community of York sought protection in the tower on the feast of Shabbat ha-Gadol. Many Jews took their own lives rather than face a violent mob in an event regarded as one of the most notorious examples of antisemitism in medieval England.


A feature of central York is the Snickelways, narrow pedestrian routes, many of which led towards the former market-places in Pavement and Sampson Square.
The Shambles is a narrow medieval street, lined with shops, boutiques and tea rooms. Most of these premises were once butchers' shops, and the hooks from which carcasses were hung and the shelves on which meat was laid out can still be seen outside some of them.

St. Mary's Bishophill

The street also contains the Shrine of Margaret Clitherow, although it is not located in the house where she lived. Goodramgate has many medieval houses including the 14th century Lady's Row built to finance a Chantry, at the edge of the churchyard of Holy Trinity church.
The city has many museums, including the Castle Museum, Yorkshire Museum and Museum Gardens, JORVIK Viking Centre, the York Art Gallery, Richard III Museum, the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, the medieval house Barley Hall owned by the York Archaeological Trust, Fairfax House owned by the York Civic Trust and the Treasurer's House owned by the National Trust.
The National Railway Museum is situated just beyond the station, and is home to a vast range of transport material and the largest collection of railway locomotives in the world. Included in this collection are the world's fastest steam locomotive LNER 4468 Mallard and the world famous 4472 Flying Scotsman, which is being overhauled in the Museum.
York is noted for its numerous churches and pubs. Most of the remaining churches in York are from the medieval period. St William's College behind the Minster, and Bedern Hall, off Goodramgate, are former dwelling places of the canons of the Minster.


The Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal, which was established in 1744, produces an annual pantomime which attracts loyal audiences from around the region to see its veteran star, Berwick Kaler.
The Grand Opera House and Joseph Rowntree Theatre also offer a variety of productions. The city also has many amateur companies, and is home to the Riding Lights Theatre Company and The Strolling Theatricals. The Department of Theatre, Film and Television, and Student Societies of the University of York put on public drama performances.

York has a fine musical heritage and modern day York has a rich tapestry of live music performances all year round. Among many music groups performing regularly in York are the Academy of St Olave's, a chamber orchestra who give concerts in the beautiful setting of St Olave's Church, Marygate. A former church, St Margaret's, Walmgate, is now the National Centre for Early Music, whch hosts concerts, broadcasts, competitions and events through the year, especially during the York Early Music Festival. The York Waits are an expert reconstruction of the medieval city group of players. Students, staff and visiting artists of York St John University music department regularly perform the well known lunchtime concerts in the University chapel, alongside special performances such as the annual Christmas concert. The staff and students of the University of York also perform in the city and particularly in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall on the Heslington campus.