On Friday I headed off to York and arrived at the Park & Ride where I left the car and took a bus into town …
First stop, the Minster … the Minster itself is pretty ho-hum. It’s nice enough as far as late Medieval churches go, and well enough preserved, but its real selling point is access to the Undercroft.
In the 1970s they had a real problem, there was a real danger that the central spire would collapse because the foundations for the Minster were built on foundations of earlier, smaller, iterations and were a mix of too small and not strong enough to support the weight.
Engineers were called in and they basically excavated down underneath and poured concrete collars around the pillars supporting the tower, running thick steel reinforcing bars through them secured by giant bolts.
In doing so they uncovered a lot of unexpected things … bits and bobs from the earlier (smaller) iterations of the Minster and even the corner of the old Praetorium (HQ Building) of Eboracum, the Roman Fortress that was the centrepiece of Roman York … the Undercroft lets you see a lot of the foundations in situ as well as presenting some of the more interesting remains also found, such as bits of wall paintings, the usual broken pottery, coins, bits of ornamental stone carvings etc. It’s a fascinating walk back through history (well, to me it is!).
Then I headed off to the Jorvik Viking Centre which was full of animatronic whizz-bangery depicting reconstructions of some of the buildings found on the site 40-50 years ago. Very Disney-ish.
The attached museum was much better in some ways as it had a large chunk of the finds made at the site and tied them in to Jorvik’s place in England and the wider Viking (and Western) world.
Finally, to round the day off, I headed over to the British National Rail Museum which had expanded markedly since I was there in 1988 – several Royal Trains (well, the Carriages, at least, the Rail companies provided locomotives as needed) from Queen Victoria through to the one inherited (and at least in the past) used by Lizzie II. Oh, to travel in style!
The Flying Scotsman, two different replicas of The Rocket (one cutaway, one actually used in re-enactments). Lots of other historic (well known and otherwise) locomotives … a WW1 Ambulance Train display, one of the engineering vehicles used in the construction of the Chunnel, one of the Eurostar trains, a Shinkansen … and much more.