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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

(103,000 in 1991)
City in North Yorkshire, on the river Ouse. In the 1st century AD the *Romans established here a garrison town, Eboracum, which became the military headquarters of the province of Britain. By the 7C York was the capital of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of *Northumbria; from this period comes its religious pre-eminence and the status of the archbishop of *York as the primate of England. The *Danes captured York in 867 and, as Jorvik, it remained an important centre.

The city's present appearance reflects its prosperity in the Middle Ages, as a port and market town. The Merchant Adventurers' Hall (1357–68) is famous for its timber work. Clifford's Tower is a 14C keep on a mound created for *William the Conqueror's original wooden fortress. The city walls are complete for almost the entire circuit (parts of them on Roman foundations). The name of one of the oldest streets in the city, the Shambles, reflects its origin as a place of butchers' stalls. And medieval York provided one of the four surviving cycles of English *mystery plays, now performed every three years.

The greatest glory of the city is the cathedral, known as York Minster (13–15C). It is the largest medieval cathedral in Britain and contains the most extensive array of medieval stained glass, including the famous windows in the north transept known as the Five Sisters. The glass luckily survived the fire, caused by lightning, which on 9 July 1984 destroyed the roof of the south transept. A survival from the earliest days of Christian York is St Peter's School, founded in 627 by the first archbishop of York, St *Paulinus; it has the high distinction of including *Alcuin among its early teachers, and the more dubious one of Guy Fawkes being its most famous old boy. It is now a co-educational independent school.

York is well provided with museums. The City Art Gallery has a broadly based collection with a strong holding of York's own painter, William Etty (1787–1849). The Castle Museum is known in particular for its recreation of a cobbled street lined with old York shop fronts and with contemporary wares on show inside. The Yorkshire Museum was founded in 1825, specializing in archaeology and natural history; it has strong medieval holdings, and in 1991 succeeded in securing the *Middleham Jewel. The Jorvik Viking Centre, opened in 1984, reflects the period of invasion from Scandinavia. Since 1975 the city has been the home of the *National Railway Museum.

York has long played an important part in the horse-racing calendar, with the Knavesmire course in use since 1731. The three-day August meeting is the annual highlight.

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