York and Scarborough, lots of history, and a visit with a travel friend.

So, York is a pretty old city and you can find remnants from when the Vikings were in the area, remains of Roman structures and walls, and buildings dating back to the Middle Ages. Most of the medieval walls remain around the city center and are a fun way to walk around and check out the historic skyline. York got put on our itinerary for this trip mostly as an excuse to catch up with a guy we met on previous travels. We met Ian on the ship we took to Australia, he was looking for a place to eat his lunch one day, so we invited him to join our table. And, as you do on long sea voyages, we ran in to him all over the place after that. Super nice guy and thanks to the wonders of the internet we have been able to keep sufficiently in touch that we were able to schedule a day to hang out in his part of the world. It was great catching up with him!

Ian took advantage of the out of towners visiting to be a tourist himself, and got us to take the local, free walking tour. The tour guide was very informative and entertaining, and we had a great day. Afterwards we found a pub, had a good old pub lunch and I indulged my shandy habit! Here we are in front of the York Minster, the cathedral built by a bishop hoping to compete with Westminster Abbey and that Bishop. The Minster, referred to that despite no longer having a seminary, is under constant repair which has created a pretty impressive training ground for stone masons. We did not take the Minster tour this trip, it was pretty crowded, but one option was a scaffolding tour that allowed you to see the restoration work.
One of several gates to the city on the medieval wall. The gates all have rooms in the upper floors, one is now a museum, one has been resorted to include the gate so you can see how it works. Another is currently a coffee shop but was a private residence as recently as the 1950s if the signage can be believed. We walked along parts of the city walls every day we were in York and were able to see the entire thing.
A view of the Minster from the wall. Alas, my lackadaisical approach to blogging means I have already forgotten what the building in the foreground is. But I think this shot shows off the size and “fanciness” of the Minster pretty well.
One of the newer buildings in the city, this one dates back to the Victorian era (I think). The stonework on the various buildings is amazing.
Who doesn’t love a good Bluestocking? Also, the York the historical markers were varied and covered many topics.
While this is not from the Minster, it is a good representation of what happens to stonework after a few centuries. The Minster has the stonemasons recreating the stonework and replacing it. Not sure if that will be done for other buildings.
The River Ouse, one of many with that name in the UK (Hat Tip to my friend in Pittsburgh- you know who you are), as it goes through York. Apparently, it is connected to the canal system and used by the longboaters of England. I am not certain this photo does justice to how tiny some of these boats are, or to the fact the even the big ones have a width that would allow Dan to stand in the middle of the cabin and touch both sides (likely – we never made it on to one).

As we communicated with Ian leading up to our getting together in York, he offered suggestions for our time in Yorkshire. One recommendation was a day trip to the coast to see the city of Scarborough. So, we hopped on the train, enjoyed a scenic ride through some bucolic British countryside, bought the local tourist map for 1 euro from an interesting map vending machine, and headed – up hill, as usual – to the local castle. The views on the walk up were amazing as the castle was situated at headlands and the coastline in this part of the world is pretty good looking.

The castle – it took quite a beating during the Civil War in the 1600s, so what’s left is actually pretty remarkable. As we approached the site, we were greeted by an enterprising staff member who explained – with a map! – the benefits of an annual membership to English Heritage. Needless to say, we now have an incentive to visit sites covered by our new membership.
Another view of the castle, this one closer to where the cannons of the Roundheads would have been as they aimed their cannons. The building to the left was used for many things over the last few hundreds of years, including during the Second World War, when it housed the garrison commander.
A view from the castle grounds back towards the north. The site of the castle has been used by humans dating back several thousand years. The Vikings spend some time here and from here the English engaged in a lot of commerce with Europe before the Romans spent time in the area.
Back in York, more evidence of the age of the city and it’s importance, if the number of fortifications and major religious structures can be a gauge. These are the remains of a monastery and hospital. There are several buildings in this complex still in use by the Museum of York, and the surrounding area is a lovely park. History and Architecture buffs will find so many things to learn and see here.
Outside of the York Minster is this statue of a Roman Emperor. Seemed a bit out of place until we learned that the previous Emperor – and Constantine’s father – was using York as a base of operations for one of the northern most regions of the Empire. I guess at some point in the 200’s the Romans decided to ignore Ceasar’s report declaring England a “cold and rainy land full of barbarians and not worth the effort” (or something along those lines). I also have a recollection from the tour that the Roman general who came to take over England (at least 50 years after Ceasar wrote it off) used Elephants, thinking that would so frighten and confuse the barbarians as to ease the conquest. But, since I am so far behind in posting, I share that as an interesting tidbit that may or may not be based in any fact. Anyway, Constantine led a Roman Legion and was in York supporting the Empire when his father died. He was named Emperor here in York. I am really hoping we find ourselves in a bar doing trivia one day and we can pull this fact out for the win. This photo also shows the extent of the scaffolding in use for the current phase of restoration – so the scaffolding tour of the Minster is probably worth it.
Another of the York Historical Markers, this one outside of a very old church that is no longer in use as such. It is a very subtle way for York to claim to have been the location of the first same sex marriage in England. Anne Lister dressed as a man to conduct business and was known as Gentleman Jack. Since we do not have access to many of the streaming services around, I was not aware of the HBO Show Gentleman Jack until my Pittsburgh friend (yep, that same one – she knows who she is) was less surprised than I would have expected when I posted about this on Facebook.
The back side of the Minster. The building to the left that barely makes in the photo at one time housed some naughty priests. Back in the day, due to primogeniture, wealthy families would by younger sons a post in the church where people would pay them to pray for them to reduce their time in purgatory and ease their passage into heaven. For some reason, this led to a number of members of the clergy who were, shall we say, less devout and pious than they might have been. This meant that the nearby streets housed a number of “entertainment establishments.” At one point, there were curbs put in place to improve the optics of this branch of the church, and there were some unhappy people.

York was a very fun visit and this post just touches on a few of the things that struck me or had a good photo. We will be back!

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