I had no idea this was here. It’s hard to believe, considering how much research I put into our trip to the UK. But somehow I missed reading about this amazing sight, one of the most beautiful ruins I could imagine, sort of hidden behind the York Museum Gardens. So when we came upon this, one morning on our way to visit the York Minster, it was pure luck:
Behind some lovely gardens lay a section of an old Roman fort known as Eboracum. This part is now called the Multangular Tower. Apparently there is some medieval architecture on top of the Roman portion, but the Roman section dates from about the 4th century. Five stone coffins are inside the Tower.
Behind this, there are more remnants of history from a later date:
You can just walk up to the remains of St Mary’s Abbey church. This began as a Benedictine abbey, and the section in the image above dates from about the 13th century. The abbey was one of the wealthiest in England until King Henry VIII banned the monasteries in the 1500s.
To me, it was amazing that we could walk right up to these ruins, touch them, explore them. They were not behind walls and admission gates — instead they were behind a lovely garden. We came across these ancient ruins purely by accident and stayed, wandering, speculating and enjoying the beauty of the place.
The grounds were huge. Here’s a picture with me in it, just to show the scale of the abbey church:
York in general was interesting, and I’m glad we stayed there long enough to see Clifford’s Tower and hear some of its history; to see the York Minster; and to see the River Ouse. But the best part was the luck of finding St Mary’s Abbey and the old Roman fort.
Here are a couple of links to information about the abbey buildings and grounds: