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Need to Know
After the construction of the medieval city walls, Micklegate Bar became the primary entrance into the city of York from the south. Although the oldest parts of the bar date to the 1100s, the ancient gateway has continued to change over the centuries.
Visit the ancient gateway to explore the pageantry and barbaric history that has unfolded between these walls through the centuries.
York Archaeological Trust refurbished and reopened the Micklegate Bar Museum in Spring 2010.
Some say the name Micklegate Bar come from Mykill (Great) and Gata (Street), others from the word 'Micklelith', also meaning great street
As York's most important gateway, the bar has served a number of important roles since its construction in the 12th century, including being the main point of entry through which at least 6 reigning monarchs entered the city.
For centuries the severed heads of rebels and traitors were displayed above the gate, the many victims include Sir Henry Purcey (Hotspur) in 1403. The last of the severed heads was removed in 1754.
Conflict and Rebellion
Delve into York's bloody history and explore famous battles, uprisings and revolutions through the ages. Discover how combat has evolved over the years and how armoury has adapted to follow this progression, from The Romans through to the War of the Roses. Investigate the importance of the city walls and learn how they helped protect York from invasion, as well as have a lasting effect on the development of the city over the centuries.
Micklegate Bar was not only a gateway to the city but also a home to many families until 1918. The stories of residents are brought alive in this fascinating exhibition, giving you a real sense of what it was like to live in this historic building. Now you can get up close to the severed head of Richard Duke of York.
Visitors to the exhibition will see new artwork commissioned by York Archaeological
Trust and created by Yorkshire-
T: 01904 615 505
William Shakespeare makes reference to the Bar in his play, Henry VI Part 3. Queen Margaret, referring to Richard Duke of York says, "Off with his head and set it on York gates; So York may overlook the town of York."
The Battle of Towton
‘..son fought against the father, the brother against the brother, the nephew against his uncle, and the tenant against his lord..'
These are the words the Tudor historian Edward Hall described the Battle of Towton. The battle took place on Palm Sunday 1461, and may have been the single bloodiest battle ever fought on British soil.
Micklegate Bar had an infamous role to play in the events leading up to Towton and in its aftermath; the victorious Edward IV entered York after the battle to find the heads of his father, brother and other prominent Yorkists displayed there and in various places around the city walls. In the flurry of executions that followed the battle, the heads of Richard Duke of York, the Earl of Devonshire and two other Lancastrians were exposed on the Bar as revenge.