The Excavations at York Minster

Herman Ramm unearths the medieval roots of a Jorvik landmark.

The visitor who knows that York Minster was founded in the year 627, and comes looking for evidences of a Saxon church, such as can be seen at Ripon or Hexham, is bound to be disappointed.

The church he sees is a Gothic building: Early English transepts built in the thirteenth century, a decorated nave built in the fourteenth, a perpendicular eastern arm and central tower built in the late fourteenth and fifteenth century, and two late fifteenth-century western towers, a programme of building that culminated in a great service of reconsecration in 1472.

This order of building implies earlier structures, since a church is not usually begun at the transepts; and there must have been something between the transepts before the present central tower was built in the fifteenth century.

Stubbs, the fourteenth-century historian of the Minster, tells us that Archbishop Roger (1154-81) built a new choir, and that John Romanus, sub-dean from 1228 and treasurer from about 1253 until his death in 1255, built a bell tower at his own expense.

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