The English city of York has, since Roman times, been defended by walls of one form or another. To this day, substantial portions of the walls remain, and York has more miles of intact wall than any other city in England. They are known variously as the [York] City walls, the Bar walls and the Roman walls (though this last is a misnomer as very little of the extant stonework is of Roman origin, and the course of the wall has been substantially altered since Roman times).
The Danes occupied the city in 867. By this time the Roman defences were in poor repair, and the Danes demolished all the towers save the Multangular Tower and restored the walls.
The majority of the remaining walls, which encircle the whole of the medieval city, date from the 12th – 14th century, with some reconstruction carried out in the 19th century and later. From the east corner of the Roman walls, the medieval wall extends to Layerthorpe Bridge. After the bridge, the King’s Fishpool, a swamp created by the Normans’ damming of the River Foss, provided adequate security for the city, and no walls were ever built in this area.
The walls resume beyond the now canalised Foss at the Red Tower, a brick building which has been much restored over the years. They continue south and west around the Walmgate area, terminating in another tower (Fishergate Postern), near York Castle, which was formerly surrounded by its own walls and a moat.
A small stretch of wall on the west side of Tower Gardens terminates at Davy Tower, another brick tower located next to the River Ouse). This originally ran up to the castle walls, with a postern on Tower Street.
Beyond the Ouse, the walls resume at Skeldergate, where there was once another postern. They climb past Baile Hill, take a right turn and proceed north-west parallel to the Inner Ring Road. Near the railway station, they turn right again in a north-easterly direction, finishing at Barker Tower on the Ouse.
Barker Tower was once linked by a chain across the river, parallel to the nineteenth-century Lendal Bridge. A small stretch of wall then leads to the entrance to Museum Gardens, the Multangular Tower and the original line of the Roman walls. Today the walls are a scheduled ancient monument and a grade 1 listed building.