is a historic walled city at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England, and is the traditional county town of Yorkshire to which it gives its name. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events in England throughout much of its two millennia of existence. The city offers a wealth of historic attractions, of which York Minster is the most prominent, and a variety of cultural and sporting activities making it a popular tourist destination for millions.
The city was founded by the Romans as Eboracum in 71 AD. It became the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and later of the kingdoms of Northumbria and Jorvik. In the Middle Ages, York grew as a major wool trading centre and became the capital of the northern ecclesiastical province of the Church of England, a role it has retained.
In the 19th century, York became a hub of the railway network and a confectionery manufacturing centre. In recent decades, the economy of York has moved from being dominated by its confectionery and railway-related industries to one that provides services. The The University of York and health services have become major employers, whilst tourism has become an important element of the local economy.
From 1996, the term City of York describes a unitary authority area which includes rural areas beyond the old city boundaries. In 2011 the urban area had a population of 153,717, while in 2010 the entire unitary authority had an estimated population of 202,400.
York Minster from the Lendal Bridge
York unitary authority shown within North Yorkshire and England
The toponymy of Eboracum is uncertain because the language of the pre-Roman indigenous population was never recorded. They are thought to have spoken a Celtic language related to modern Welsh. It is thought that Eboracum is derived from the Brythonic word Eborakon, a combination of eburos "yew-tree" (cf. Old Irish ibar "yew-tree", Welsh efwr "alder buckthorn", Breton evor "alder buckthorn") and suffix *-āko(n)"place" (cf. Welsh -og) meaning either "place of the yew trees" (cf. efrog in Welsh, eabhrac in Irish Gaelic and eabhraig in Scottish Gaelic, by which names the city is known in those languages); or less probably, Eburos, 'property', which is a personal Celtic name mentioned in different documents as Eβουρος, Eburus and Eburius, and which, combined with the same suffix *-āko(n), could denote a property.
Archaeological evidence suggests that Mesolithic people settled in the region of York between 8000 and 7000 BC, although it is not known whether their settlements were permanent or temporary. By the time of the Roman conquest of Britain, the area was occupied by a tribe known to the Romans as the Brigantes. The Brigantian tribal area initially became a Roman client state, but, later its leaders became more hostile and the Roman Ninth Legion was sent north of the Humber into Brigantian territory.
The city was founded in AD 71, when the Ninth Legion conquered the Brigantes and constructed a wooden military fortress on flat ground above the River Ouse close to its confluence with the River Foss. The fortress, which was later rebuilt in stone, covered an area of 50 acres (20 ha) and was inhabited by 6,000 soldiers. The site of the Roman fortress lies under the foundations of York Minster, and excavations in the undercroft have revealed some of the original walls.
The Emperors Hadrian, Septimius Severus and Constantius I all held court in York during their various campaigns. During his stay, the Emperor Severus proclaimed York capital of the province of Britannia Inferior, and it is likely that it was he who granted York the privileges of a colonia or city. Constantius I died in AD 306 during his stay in York, and his son Constantine the Great was proclaimed Emperor by the troops based in the fortress.
While the Roman colonia and fortress were located on high ground, by AD 400 the town was victim to periodic flooding from the Rivers Ouse and Foss and was abandoned. York declined in the post-Roman era, and was taken and settled by the Angles in the 5th century.
Reclamation of the flooded parts of the town were initiated in the 7th century under King Edwin of Northumbria, and York became his chief. The first minster church was built in York for the baptism of Edwin in 627. Edwin ordered the small wooden church be rebuilt in stone but was killed in 633 and the task of completing the stone minster fell to his successor Oswald. In the following century Alcuin of York came to the cathedral school of York. He had a long career as a teacher and scholar, first at the school at York now known as St Peter's School, founded in 627 AD, and later as Charlemagne's leading advisor on ecclesiastical and educational affairs.
York lies in the Vale of York, a flat area of fertile arable land bordered by the Pennines, the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Wolds The city was built at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss on a terminal moraine left by the last Ice Age.
During Roman times, the land surrounding the rivers Ouse and Foss was marshy, making the site easy to defend. The city is prone to flooding from the River Ouse, and has an extensive (and mostly effective) network of flood defences with walls along the river, and a liftable barrier across the River Foss where it joins the Ouse at the 'Blue Bridge'. In October and November 2000 York experienced the worst flooding in 375 years with more than 300 homes flooded. Much land in and around the city is on flood plains too flood-prone for development other than agriculture. The ings are flood meadows along the Ouse, while the strays are open common grassland in various locations around the city.
These census figures show no other single religion returned affiliation, as a percentage of population, above the national average for England, but, those responding as "No Religion" was higher than the national average.
There are 33 active Anglican churches in York which is home to the Archbishop of York and the Mother Church, York Minster, and administrative centre of the northern province of the Church of England and the Diocese of York. York is in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough, has eight Roman Catholic churches and a number of different Catholic religious orders.
Other Christian denominations that are active in York include the Religious Society of Friends who have a number of meeting houses, Methodists within the York North and York South circuits of The Southlands Methodist Church York and Hull District, and Unitarians. There is one mosque in York and the city also has a UK Islamic Mission Islamic centre. Various Buddhist traditions are represented in the city and around York.
York's economy is based on the service industry, which in 2000 was responsible for 88.7% of employment in the city. The service industries include public sector employment, health, education, finance, information technology (IT) and tourism that accounts for 10.7% of employment. Tourism has become an important element of the economy, with the city offering a wealth of historic attractions, of which York Minster is the most prominent, and a variety of cultural activities. In 2009, York was the 7th most visited city by UK residents and the 13th most visited by overseas visitors.
Unemployment in York was low at 4.2% in 2008 compared to the United Kingdom national average of 5.3%. The biggest employer in York is the City of York Council, with over 7,500 employees. Employers with more than 2,000 staff include Aviva (formerly Norwich Union Life), Network Rail, Northern Rail, York Hospitals NHS Trust and the The University of York. Other major employers include British Telecom, CPP Group, Nestlé, NFU Mutual and a number of railway companies.
Under the requirements of the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, York City Council appointed a watch committee which established a police force and appointed a chief constable. On 1 June 1968 the York City, East Riding of Yorkshire and North Riding of Yorkshire police forces were amalgamated to form the York and North East Yorkshire Police. Since 1974, Home Office policing in York has been provided by theNorth Yorkshire Police. The force's central headquarters for policing York and nearby Selby in Fulford. Statutory emergency fire and rescue service is provided by the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, whose headquarters is at Northallerton.
York's location on the River Ouse and in the centre of the Vale of York means that it has always had a significant position in the nation's transport system. The city grew up as a river port at the confluence of the River Ouse and the River Foss. The Ouse was originally a tidal river, accessible to seagoing ships of the time. Today both of these rivers remain navigable, although the Foss is only navigable for a short distance above the confluence. A lock at Naburn on the Ouse to the south of York means that the river in York is no longer tidal.
Until the end of the 20th century, the Ouse was used by barges to carry freight between York and the port of Hull. The last significant traffic was the supply of newsprint to the local newspaper's Foss-side print works, which continued until 1997. Today navigation is almost exclusively leisure-oriented.
The University of York's main campus is on the southern edge of the city at Heslington and is currently undergoing significant expansion with new buildings and departments including Management, Law, Theatre, Film, and Television at Heslington East. The Department of Archaeology and the graduate Centres for Eighteenth Century Studies and Medieval Studies are located in the historic King's Manor in the city center It was York's only institution with university status until 2006, when the more centrally located York St John University, formerly an autonomous college of the University of Leeds, attained full university status. The city also hosts a branch of The University of Law - York. The University of York also has a highly rated medical school, Hull York Medical School.
The city has two major further education institutions. York College is an amalgamation of York Technical College and York Sixth Form College. Students there study a very wide range of academic and vocational courses, and range from school leavers and sixth formers to people training to make career moves. Askham Bryan College offers further education courses, foundation and honours degrees, specialising in more vocational subjects such as horticulture, agriculture, animal management and even golf course management.
There are 70 local council schools with over 24,000 pupils in the City of York Council area. The City of York Council manages most primary and secondary schools within the city. Primary schools cover education from ages 5–11, with some offering early years education from age 3. From 11–16 education is provided by 10 secondary schools, four of which offer additional education up to the age of 18. In 2007 Oaklands Sports College and Lowfield Comprehensive School merged to become one school known as York High School.
York also has several private schools. St Peter's School was founded in 627. The scholar Alcuin, who went on to serve Charlemagne, taught there. It was also the school attended by Guy Fawkes. Two schools have Quaker origins: Bootham School is co-educational and The Mount School is all-girls.On the outskirts of the city is Queen Margaret's School. Pupils from The The Minster School sing in York.
The York Theatre Royal, which was established in 1744, produces an annual pantomime which attracts loyal audiences from around the country to see its veteran star, Berwick Kaler. The Grand Opera House and Joseph Rowntree Theatre also offer a variety of productions. The city is home to the Riding Lights Theatre Company, which as well as operating a busy national touring department, also operates a busy youth theatre and educational departments. York is also home to a number of amateur dramatic groups. The Department of Theatre, Film and Television, and Student Societies of the University of York put on public drama performances.
The Academy of St Olave's, a chamber orchestra which gives concerts in St Olave's Church, Marygate, is one of the music groups that perform regularly in York. A former church, St Margaret's, Walmgate, is the National Centre for Early Music, which hosts concerts, broadcasts, competitions and events including the York Early Music Festival. Students, staff and visiting artists of York St John University music department regularly perform lunchtime concerts in the University chapel. The staff and students of the The University of York also perform in the city.
Each September since 1997, York holds an annual Festival of Food and Drink. The aim of the festival is to spotlight food culture in York and North Yorkshire by promoting local food production.The Festival generates up to 150,000 visitors over 10 days, from all over the country. One of the notable local products is York ham, a mild-flavoured ham with delicate pink colouring. It is traditionally served with Madeira Sauce. As a lightly smoked, dry-cured ham, York ham is saltier but milder in flavour than other European dry-cured hams. Folklore has it that the oak construction for York Minster provided the sawdust for smoking the ham. Robert Burrow Atkinson's butchery shop, in Blossom Street, is the birthplace of the original "York Ham" and the reason why the premises became famous.
The city's football team is York City, and the team is playing in League Two at the start of the 2014–15 season. York have played as high as the old Second Division but are best known for their "giant killing" status in cup competitions, having reached the FA Cup semi-final in 1955 and beaten Manchester United 3–0 during the 1995–96 League Cup. Their matches are played at Bootham Crescent.
York also has a strong rugby league history. York FC, later known as York Wasps, formed in 1901, were one of the oldest rugby league clubs in the country but the effects of a move to the out of town Huntington Stadium, poor results and falling attendances led to their bankruptcy in 2002. The supporters formed a new club, York City Knights, who now play at the same stadium in Championship 1. There are three amateur rugby league teams in York, New Earswick All Blacks, York Acorn and Heworth. York International 9s is a rugby league nines tournament which takes place in York each year. Amateur side York Lokomotive compete in the Rugby League Conference.
An open rowing club York City Rowing Club is located underneath Lendal Bridge. The rowing clubs of The University of York, York St John Rowing Club and Leeds University Boat Club as well as York City RC using the Ouse for training.
York Racecourse was established in 1731 and from 1990 has been awarded Northern Racecourse of the Year for 17 years running. This major horseracing venue is located on the Knavesmire and sees thousands flocking to the city every year for the 15 race meetings. The Knavesmire Racecourse also hosted Royal Ascot in 2005. In August racing takes place over the four-day Ebor Festival that includes the Ebor Handicap dating from 1843.
Motorbike speedway once took place at York. The track in the Burnholme Estate was completed in 1930 and a demonstration event staged. In 1931 the track staged team and open events and the York team took part in the National Trophy.