There has been a gateway here since Viking times and was lived in from 1196. The present bar dates from the twelfth century, with two upper storeys added from the fourteenth century.
The bar was used to display the heads of traitors who had been executed, including the political prisoners who were sentenced in 1745 following Bonnie Prince Charlie’s coup. The heads of two of these prisoners, William Connolly and James Mayne, stayed on display for eight years.
In the eighteenth century a pub was built to the right hand side called the Jolly Bacchus, which was closed and demolished in 1873 at which point a fifth arch to the gateway was discovered. Micklegate Bar’s barbican was demolished in 1826, despite some local opposition.
From 1838 until 1918 part of the bar was used as a policeman’s house. Part of the reason for this stemmed from complaints which the local authorities received from the residents of the street about the levels of disorder, with Walmgate Bar, Monk Bar and Micklegate Bar all being used as police sub-stations.
The gateway offers a good vantage point over the city, and was used by police during the Queen’s visit in 1971, as traditionally the Monarch enters the city of York via Micklegate Bar. Today the gate is used as The Micklegate Bar Museum.