The Archaeological Record

The earliest architects of York’s city walls were the Romans, who first established their legionary fortress on the north side of the Ouse in 71 AD. Their colonia (residential area) on the south bank grew up over the course of the next two centuries. Micklegate Bar is not on the site of a Roman gateway, and excavations have shown that the Roman road ran slightly to the south-west of it. Numerous Roman remains have been found in the vicinity of Micklegate Bar over the years, and the Bar incorporates some pieces of Roman stonework (and even part of a Roman stone coffin), recycled by the medieval masons who constructed it. Roman towns had their cemeteries just outside their walls, and Eboracum (York) was no exception. One of the city’s most prestigious cemeteries was nearby on the highest part of the Mount, alongside the road that led towards Calcaria (Tadcaster). The Four Seasons mosaic now displayed in the Yorkshire Museum comes from a town house that once stood on Toft Green, indicating that this part of York must at one time have been one of the very best residential areas. Also nearby were several temples where the gods of classical mythology were worshipped; a statue of Mars, the god of war, was found along with three altars in the grounds of the Bar Convent in 1880.

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