Trip to York and the Battlefield of Towton.
A long weekend but no lazy days for us. Time to pound the pavement with a visit to the wild barren northern frontier, or York as most call it. Rampaging Romans, bearded Vikings, Norman knights, conquest castles, whippets, flat caps, York has it all. Even got their own gallows at Tyburn on the Knavesmire. Just the place to hang Scottish rebels, horse thieves (Dick Turpin) and other rapscallions. So with shield-maiden Sam in tow, we trudge around York’s tourist traps. Just hope the locals have already had their fill of pillaging, plunder and bloodletting.
Firstly, lets talk about York Minster, that famous house of God but with some unholy prices. Suffice to say we didn’t stick around. You’ll find many places in York where you wont stick around, not because of Viking warlords or rampaging Romans but pretty ridiculous prices putting you off. This includes the dungeon, minster, castle, museum, all as guilty as Dick Turpin, but at least he wore a mask when he robbed people. Perhaps the heads of these attractions should be exposed on the city walls at Micklegate Bar. Nice to see they’ve removed the heads that were put up there in the past, it might have put visitors off.
So we trundle along to Coppergate and the Jorvik museum. Step inside to see a reconstructed excavation of exposed 1000 year old timbers and other artefacts below your feet. Dirty lot these Vikings. Then onto the ride for the reconstruction of a smelly street of the age complete with realistic creepy life-like animatronic waxworks. Its a bit like Westworld without Yul Brynner running wild. Now you’ve got a chance to view some skeletons, one male and one female from the Coppergate dig. There are also skeletal remains with battle wounds to see how viciously men can slay each other. Yes its short, sweet and not cheap but at least you get a years entry with your ticket.
As if to emphasise the point about slaying each other with sharp swords and stuff, on the way to York we pass the battlefield of Towton. On Palm Sunday in 1461, during Wars of the Roses between the houses of York and Lancaster, the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil resulted in the reported deaths of 28,000 men. Any romantic visions of the Wars of the Roses should be dismissed as men fleeing over the fields at Cock Beck and Bloody Meadow were slaughtered in the rout. If you’ve got any doubts about the lack of chivalric niceties, check out the BBC documentary Secrets of The Dead – Blood Red Roses (easily found on YouTube) that shows you the coup de grâce delivered to some unlucky victims. Brutal.