Bootham Bar York, Walls Gate leading to Bootham York England

The history of Bootham Bar dates back to Roman times. Its name comes from the fact it had a market close to it. It has arches of gritstone and limestone and three floors to it. Three statues stand on the top of the turret level. You can still enter it today to see the portcullis and a view of the the Minster.

Picture of Bootham Bar

History of Bootham Bar

This Gate to York's City walls looks out North-West toward the road called Bootham. It stands behind and to the side of the site of the porta principalis dextra (latin for right-hand main entrance) of the Roman walled fortress. Evidence tells us it was a toll gate 1280. In 1405 there are references to Thomas Mowbray, the Earl Marshal and others having their heads displayed here as traitors. 1633 saw the gate redecorated in anticipation of a Royal visit.

The name Bootham is recognized from records in the 12th century as "barram de Bootham" meaning bar at the booths. This probably refers the fact St Mary's Abbey had the right to hold a weekly market here. Additionally as it is very close to York Minster. Thus, it would have been a very easy place for people to find when they required market goods.


Bootham Bar has one main external arch, which is 11th century. The internal archway dates from the 12th to 14th centuries. Most of it it made from gritstone and magnesium limestone from the surrounding area. It has three floors and a turret level at the top. In the 14th century the bar was heightened to house a portcullis. It also had a barbican added about this time, jutting out to the North-West. The latter was taken down around 1832.


There are three statues made of Portland stone on top of the Bar. These were carved by G. W. Milburn and dated 1894. Milburn had a workshop that was adjoining, right next door. They are replacements for what were deteriorating medieval statues.

The modern statues (left to right) are of:

  • A stone mason who holds a model of the Bar.
  • 14th century Mayor of York Nicholas Langton, who holds a scroll.
  • A knight in medieval armour with a sword and shield.
What to See Inside

You can still enter the gate today from the road and or from the walls walk. When you are inside the main chamber you can see the portcullis. This is now fixed in place but, it did used to drop down shutting the entrance. If you look out of the small arched windows you can see York Minster to the South-East. If you look out the other side, up Bootham itself, you will be looking out of the city, along where the main Roman road from the North was.

Tell people what you thought of your trip to see Bootham Bar in York with a review.

Send in your pictures of Bootham Bar for publication on this site.

Acknowledgements for this article go to N. Pevsner and D. Neave. Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, and York City Archives.