A Merry Time In Old (And New) England—Part 2

So as I work on my PerNoReMo, we’ll keep this post simple. Here are some photos from York that my husband and I took in September. York features some wonderful old Medieval and Renaissance buildings and the wall that protected the old city.

We stayed in a hotel located in a building dating from the 1700s that had been built against one of the Medieval gates, which you can see at left below. The view at right is back up the street from the hotel.

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One of the “sights” we wanted to see was the archaeological “site” of Jorvik, which lies beneath the modern city. The site was discovered in the 1970s when new construction was taking place. An interpretive center and museum were built over the excavation site, and visitors are taken on an underground ride through a recreated street scene from 1,000 years ago. The ride was a bit entertainment-oriented for two archaeologists but still interesting. The lighting was really low, and I didn’t get any good photos from inside. But if you’re ever in York, Jorvik is worth a visit.

We also spent part of a day walking along the Medieval wall and had some great views of the city and some of its other famous attractions such as York Minster. Whether you have a religious bent or not, the architecture of those Gothic cathedrals is amazing.

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york3My closeups of the Minster don’t do it justice, so I’m not including any of them here. Really, you need the right lens, and my mid-level Canon doesn’t have it. I did better with smaller building remains, like that of a Roman fort above. This, and some of the bits in a following photo were a taste of what would come on the last part of our trip.

One of my favorite “photo opps” was at the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, which is on the grounds of the Yorkshire Museum. Construction started in 1088, and the Abbey lasted until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII. There are beautiful gardens around the ruins, even though you don’t see many flowers in this view. But there were some interesting garden features, too, which you can see below.

york4I suppose using sarcophagi as garden decorations isn’t much different from using old gravestones, which some people enjoy doing. Not exactly my cup of tea since it strikes me as a bit disrespectful of those who were meant to be remembered by those markers. But they are a reminder that others walked this world long before us and more will follow after we’re gone.

On our last morning in York, we visited Clifford’s Tower, which was part of York Castle. It’s quite a steep walk up the stairs at back to reach the tower, but the views of the city from the top are worth the entrance fee.

york5Later that afternoon, we took the train up to Corbridge, where we would begin our trek along Hadrian’s Wall, starting first, though, with a Roman fort that predated the wall’s construction. More on that leg of the journey in a later post.

cb1For those of you taking part in this year’s NaNoWriMo, have fun and pace yourself! There’s a long way to go before the end of the month!

56 thoughts on “A Merry Time In Old (And New) England—Part 2

  1. I’m of course loving your posts about England! I’ve only been to York once before I think and that was several years ago, but looking at your pictures here, I’m struck by how very similar it looks to Canterbury near where I live (I wasn’t living here when I visited York before, so wouldn’t have noticed that) – not so much the overall city view you posted from Clifford’s Tower, but the medieval gate, and the streets, and the cathedral, and the ruins, very much like Canterbury. We have a city wall you can walk along too. Next time you come to England, you must include Canterbury! 🙂

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    • We will definitely add Canterbury to the next trip. 🙂 I’d love to see where Chaucer’s pilgrims were heading! So much of my family history lies in the British Isles and the European continent, and I want to see more of those places. Where are those unlimited funds and time to do that? 😉

      As Andrea notes below, it may be interesting for those of you in England to see these places through the eyes of an American tourist. We probably get excited about things that you all simply view as part of the local environment. I’ve become used to many of the sights in DC, and it’s fun to see and hear the tourists’ reactions and remember my own first experiences. Of course, if I’m trying to get somewhere on business and they’re blocking my way, I might feel a bit impatient at times! 😉

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  2. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic after reading your blog today. It’s a while since I’ve been to York – I think we need a trip there!
    I’m glad you enjoyed seeing York.
    I like the rose window at York Minster. Most stained glass windows don’t do much for me – I appreciate the work that goes into them, but not so much the images depicted.

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    • We really enjoyed York—all those wonderful old buildings and ruins! Of course, we really didn’t see too much of the modern part of the city, so I’m not sure what it’s like. The line at the Minster was a bit too long for us, so we didn’t go inside and get the full effect. But the outside was certainly impressive! We also had fun our one night there—we went on a ghost tour. Those can be such fun, and we had a really entertaining guide.

      If you go to Jorvik, be prepared for the smell. They’ve done their best to recreate the odors that still wafted from the damp soils during the excavations. I’ll take modern sanitation sewers and garbage collection, thank you very much!

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    • Thanks, Cindi. 🙂 Seeing Europe (well, England this trip) and its history is fascinating to me. I tried to imagine my ancestors who lived in England and what their lives would’ve been like. The recreated Viking street at Jorvik, though, made me appreciate all our modern conveniences. As I noted to Clowie above, the smells they recreated were not appealing!

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  3. Absolutely stunning photos, JM. I can only imagine you in Europe and Great Britain — it’s an archaeological playground, isn’t it? Can’t compare to our definition of “old” here in the US. Hope your PerNoReMo is going well.

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    • It certainly is, Gwen. There’s very little archaeology in North America that can compare with Europe and Britain for impressive remains! Of course, that makes the archaeology a lot more difficult to do, too. Architectural remains can be so complex, especially when buildings are reused through time. Getting the sequence of events right can be a pain in the behind.

      PerNoReMo’s a bit slow for a few days here because of extra work and appointments, but I should have some better time this upcoming weekend—or so I hope! 🙂 And I hope your NaNoWriMo’s off to a good start!

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  4. I would love to visit York. I’ve only been to London (well, I did glimpse the White Cliffs of Dover on a quick run-by). There’s so much more of England I’d love to experience. Thanks for taking us there. The pics are great. As for the sarcophagus that’s in full view–it seems quite small. Don’t think it would fit many Westerners today!

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    • The old city was so neat to explore, but we only had two half-days to do it. I’d love to go back and spend more time there, too. Those sarcophagi do run on the small side. 😉 I doubt your average Roman man was more than 5’5″ in height and the women probably closer to 5′ or so. And these may have belonged to Romanized Britons, who might even have been a bit shorter on average. Not like our generation where at 5’6″ I sometimes feel short! 🙂

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  5. Beautiful! I love all those old buildings. Here in the western part of the U.S., we have nothing even close to them. We think a building is old if it’s 100 years old. And I love those cute little flowers in Corbridge. I want to sit there and write a book.

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    • Corbridge was exactly what I had imagined an English village to be—the stone buildings, narrow streets, picturesque signs over the pubs like The Black Bull…. That’s where we ate dinner the night we were there. So different to step off a 3-car train at a small rail station and walk up the street to our B&B! It was like stepping into the setting of an English mystery or historical drama. 🙂 The inspiration for writing would be everywhere!

      Our buildings can run a bit older here in the east, but even then, 1700s is pushing it. Back a thousand years? Wow!

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  6. One of the coolest things about traveling when I was right out of college was seeing and actually staying in ancient buildings still in use – and no one thinks anything about it. Clifford’s Tower is so cool. Glad you hiked up it
    Gardens around old ruins and sites always seem appropriate – like flowers placed in a graveyard?
    Really enjoyed your pictures and comments. Once again, it is so much more meaningful actually seeing the historical places that appear in literature – somehow it adds so much.

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    • I’ve read a few English cozies since coming back, and I can “get” so many more of the details now that I’ve been there. Even though most of our walking was in Northumberland, I also felt like I was in the “All Creatures Great and Small” series that aired on PBS years ago. The landscape and scenery were so like what was in the series. Those photos will be in the next post and show a very different landscape from my city shots. 😉

      Travel is one of the best experiences humans can have. I wish more people had the opportunity to do it and see more of the world. I think we can better appreciate both the similarities and differences between our cultures when we can experience them firsthand.

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    • I suspect I’d have a similar reaction if you posted about a trip to my area. 🙂 We’re used to seeing our surroundings from our point of view, and it can be eye-opening when someone from outside describes them. For example, my husband and I kept telling people how impressed we were with the English train system, and they couldn’t believe it. Their views were that it was terrible! Not by a longshot to us! If you want really bad train service, come to the US!

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    • Yeah, definitely save the big trips for when Angus can remember the experiences. 🙂 My parents made some trips with me when I was a baby, and of course I have no memory of them! Travel’s a great way to learn about the world while having fun, so it’s a great way to sneak in some education for the kids without them knowing it. 😉

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    • Thanks, Dianne! History for native groups in North America and Australia may go back thousands of years, but for those of us of European descent, the history’s a lot shorter. Seeing where some of my ancestors came from has been a great experience. 🙂

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    • I wish we would’ve had more than two half-days for York, but that’s all we could spare before heading up to Hadrian’s Wall country. The Viking Museum was fascinating, but my stomach was having a tough time with the recreated smells of the old settlement! I could’ve done with a little less attention to detail on that front. 😉

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        • They still have the moving car ride, but there weren’t any statues at the beginning. We jumped right into the Viking village in all its pungency. There were wax figures in the houses and along the streets, so maybe they’ve changed things around a bit?

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          • Guess so. I went to look on YouTube after reading your post, and there was one video that talked about the closing of the Time Machine. That was a feature where they took people into a room and showed them a video where the two main characters progressed from modern day backward in time to the Viking era.

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    • Thanks, Widdershins. 🙂 It’ll be hard to limit the photos from Hadrian’s Wall. We took a lot of them, and it’s hard to choose a select few for the blog! Northumberland is a stunning landscape to walk across. 🙂

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  7. First let me say how much I LOVE the new blog layout: so crisp and clean but not so different that it seems unfamiliar.
    You’ve definitely piqued my interest re: York. Ruins from 1088 and an underground Viking city? Such antiquity boggles the mind!

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    • If you go back to England, I’d highly recommend York. 🙂 There was so much more to explore and do, but we just didn’t have the time. I’d go back in a minute, though!

      It’s funny how just a few tweaks can give the blog an updated look. All I did was change my header and background color and up the font size by one point for the text. The header’s colors, though, still draw from the last version’s background color. 🙂 I think the lighter gray on the sides works better for photos….

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  8. Whew! Looks like you did a lot of exploring during your visit, JM! I always find investigating new – or, rather, old – areas of the world to be fascinating, inspiring, and sobering at the same time. The feelings we get when we look upon centuries-old majesty like a Clifford’s Tower, or the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, can be breathtaking, and prompt us to remember the human race has been here for a relatively short period of time, but we can be capable of lasting impressions, not always of the bad kind.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    • I’ve always felt a connection with history, which is probably a big reason why I became an archaeologist. Some people are just bored when faced with old buildings and such, but I always wonder about the people who came before us and left those bits behind. Whether it’s the ruins of a Roman temple or a projectile point fashioned by Native Americans in the Archaic period, I think about the people behind them. And even though I don’t know their names or what they were like, I feel that they live on, in a sense, when I think about them. I hope that makes sense!

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    • Thanks, Carol. 🙂 I have one more travel post planned for Hadrian’s Wall, probably the week after next. I’m finally doing a post next week about something I’ve been thinking about for some time now…. Took me long enough to figure out what I wanted to say!

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  9. So glad I found your blog. I love you photos and captions about York. London is one of my favorite cities, and I’ve been to Bath and several other surrounding towns, but never York. You’ve inspired me for my next trip!

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    • Thank you for stopping by to visit! It’s just not possible to see everything in one trip, is it? We’d still love to see places like Canterbury, Bath, Oxford, the Cotswolds…. And that’s just England! Hopefully that next trip won’t be too far in the future. 🙂

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    • I’m so glad we finally had the opportunity to make this trip. We’ve talked about it for years, but we never seemed to get around to it. And now, of course, we wish we had done it long ago! f you get the change, go for it! 🙂

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  10. Looks gorgeous! So many people only visit London and not the rest of England, but there is so much awesomeness to see. Can’t wait to go to England one of these days. I have some other places to tackle first though. 🙂

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    • London is a fabulous city. But just as New York is only one aspect of the US, so London is for England. To really get a feel for a country, we have to experience different places within it. Sigh. So many places in the world to see—so little time and money to do it. But I appreciate every trip I have been able to make. 🙂

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    • Unlimited time and money would certainly make it easier to visit all those favorite places again—and discover new ones. I have to admit—I wouldn’t mind having Scotty beam me from place to place instead of having to make those long flights!

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  11. What fun! It looks like you guys had a great time. I would love to see Guy Fawkes’ birthplace. I’ve been to England a few times, but never to Kent and I would like to go. There’s not too many places I wouldn’t want to go if given the opportunity.

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    • It was a great trip all around. The Guy Fawkes house has been converted to an inn, so you can actually stay there. How many places in the States are like that, I wonder? There must be some, but of course, probably not as old. There was another house that had a plaque marking it as the birthplace of a famous resident—in 1603. I doubt we have many buildings of that age on this side of the pond.

      Travel is one of the best things we can do to broaden our horizons and perspectives. I wish everyone could do it.

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  12. I love these photos, and I enjoyed reading the comments before mine. We tend to take “our worlds” for granted, until someone from outside that world comes along and brings a new perspective to what is so familiar and seemingly ordinary. As a New Englander, I am tickled when I think about people paying lots of money to imbibe the foliage every autumn. All I have to do is step outside my house and look around. 🙂

    Wonderful post. I need to go to York and Corbridge on my next trip!

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    • My husband and I have thought we should do a “fall colors” trip to New England some day. 😉 We have some good areas near here, too, but they’re not quite up to your standards, I’d bet!

      I don’t think you’d be disappointed in a trip to York or Corbridge. So much history in York and the quintessential English village in Corbridge. How could the Muse not be inspired? 🙂

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