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York - Stonegate
The York street (now pedestrianized) of Stonegate,
was one of the main roads of the Roman city
and, as such, would have been paved with stone hence the name that Norse
settlers gave it when they established themselves in the former Roman base
of Eboracum, subsequently an Anglo-Saxon
administrative centre (Eoforwic).
The Norse made the place, which in their tongue was "Jorvik", a
commercial centre of the kingdom they
established in northern England.
Stonegate is lined with buildings representing architecture from many
periods in history; some timber-framed buildings heark back to the late
Middle Ages. Mulberry Hall, for instance, was built in the fifteenth
century. Most of these buildings are today shops at ground-floor level.
The street led from the community hall, passing by the
marketplace, and terminated, as it still
does, at the cathedral. When the street was laid out by the Romans, its
purpose was to connect the headquarters of the legion based at Eboracum
to one of the gates in the city wall.
A number of English boroughs had their shape and layout influenced by
preceding Roman settlements. Even though Roman features may have
become obscured or obliterated during the decline of urban society in
the Early Middle Ages, the Roman walls and gates (the likeliest
feature to survive) influenced later settlers to recreate perhaps
unknowingly the grid pattern of streets originally laid down by the
Romans; Colchester provides another
example. The shapes of other towns were influenced by a variety of factors,
such as the intersection or convergence of highways (land- and/or
water-based), the presence of a fortification or religious house, the
curve of a river, access to a sheltered harbour, the availability of an
open flat area, the preoccupations (e.g. protection, agriculture,
commerce, industry) of the peoples who settled in these locations at
different periods, as well as specific historical events that owe little or
nothing to topography. These often interacting factors produced the
great variety of medieval town plans many of whose features may still be
traced in their modern descendants.