Streets, roads and pavements

Caring for the City Walls

We're responsible for caring for, and making accessible, York's City Walls which are a major feature of our historic environment and civic identity. The walls include significant remains of all principal periods of their development and make visible over 2,000 years of urban change.

To ensure the City Walls remain in good condition now and in the future, we carry out a programme of preventative and reactive repairs, including:

  • repointing
  • repainting of metalwork
  • removal of self-seeded saplings
  • replacement of worn flags and coping stones

We also monitor and inspect the City Walls for changes and defects, undertaking more detailed investigations and large scale structural interventions where necessary.

Our work is guided by a Conservation Management Plan, read our summary document: York City Walls - A summary of their conservation, July 2021. Contact us by email to request a printed copy of the full plan.

York’s City Walls are the most complete and finest in England, making them one of our most treasured historical assets. It's incredibly important to maintain and repair the walls, so residents and visitors can enjoy them for many years to come.

Tower Two stabilisation project

In 2020 our in-house stonemasons started work to stabilise Tower Two, an 'interval tower' on the City Walls near Baile Hill. Semi-circular Tower Two, built circa 1250 to 1330, projects from the city walls between the remains of a motte and bailey castle, and Bitchdaughter Tower.

Poor condition of Tower Two, June 2020 (Olivia Brabbs Photography).

Poor condition of Tower Two, June 2020. Credit: Olivia Brabbs Photography

Archaeological and structural investigations determined that the weight of the tower’s infill, which was probably added in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries to create the wall walk, was causing progressive cracks and damage.

Stabilisation works included:

  • York Archaeological Trust gathering information about the construction phases of the tower and adjacent wall
  • reducing the weight pressing against the wall of the tower by removing the rubble infill
  • dismantling part of the tower, labelling each stone removed and returning it to the same place to reduce existing cracks
  • designing a new walkway so that no weight bears on the walls of the tower to preventing further deterioration
  • installing the walkway that allows people to see into the excavation and understand more about how the City Walls have changed over time

The project has stabilised the condition of Tower Two for the next 100 years, and improved public knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of Tower Two.

Tower Two during excavation, with scaffolding in place Tower Two excavated stones

It also provided an opportunity to increase what we know about Tower Two and this part of the city walls. By revealing the interior face of the tower we can more accurately understand when the tower was built, and when and how the walkway was added.

The Tower Two stabilisation project (part of the City Walls capital programme) was delivered in partnership with Mason Clark Associates and PPIY Architects+, with advice from Historic England.

Also see

 

City Walls