Anglo-Saxon York

The Anglo-Saxon period, also known as the Anglian period, followed on from the Roman occupation and continued through until the Norman conquest in 1066.

After the Romans left York, although many of the local population stayed in the area, the Anglo-Saxons started to occupy the area from around the early fifth century. It is thought that this may have started because Romans got Anglo-Saxon mercenaries to defend the city, and their descendants stayed.

The city layout remained similar, although some flooded areas were reclaimed by Edwin of Northumbria in the seventh century. York remained the seat of a bishop, as in the early seventh century Paulinus of York – who was later made a saint – set up a wooden church. This church was the St. Peter the Apostle Church which marked the baptism of Edwin on Easter Day in 627. It is then thought that Edwin built a stone church on the site of the wooden one, although this was damaged by fire in 741. This in turn was replaced with a Saxon Cathedral which was burned by the Normans. The current York Minster is built on the site of these churches.

The city walls which were built by the Romans remained intact during the Anglian period, and there is a suggestion that the Anglian Tower was built during this period to repair one section of the walls. This section was rediscovered in 1839 after having become buried over the centuries, and there is an information plaque noting that the section of walls was repaired during the reign of King Edwin (610-632). It is thought however that this might be inaccurate, as although this section of the wall is built in a different manner, it could also date from the late Roman period.

The Roman base, of which remains are still visible under the Minster, were used to at least the Viking invasion in the late ninth century. Although little remains from the Anglian period, the foundations and remains of several Anglian houses have been uncovered during various archaeological digs.

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