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The Anglian Tower
Part of York city walls
Yorkshire, England
Anglian Tower York.jpg
Anglian Tower
Coordinates 53°57′41″N 1°05′19″W / 53.9615°N 1.0885°W / 53.9615; -1.0885Coordinates: 53°57′41″N 1°05′19″W / 53.9615°N 1.0885°W / 53.9615; -1.0885
Grid reference grid reference SE599521
Type Tower
Site information
Condition Ruined
Listed Building – Grade I
Official name: Anglian Tower
Designated: 14 June 1954
Reference #: 1257157

The Anglian Tower is the lower portion of an Early Medieval tower on the city walls of York in the English county of North Yorkshire. It is located on the south-west (interior) face of the City walls, currently in the grounds of York City Library and accessible on foot both from there and the Museum Gardens.

Discovery

The Anglian tower was first discovered by workmen making a tunnel from St Leonard's Place to Mint Yard in 1839. It was probably located again in 1934 by the City Engineer. Limited excavation was undertaken in 1969, 10 feet (3.0 m) above the modern street level and confined between the Mediaeval town wall and the stable, only an area 25 feet (7.6 m) by 15 feet (4.6 m) being exposed. The location of the tower places it between the conjectural locations of two Roman interval towers on the south-west side of the Roman fortress.

Function

There is no secular parallel for this tower in Britain, nor in Europe. It could not be directly dated, and on balance the most likely dates for its construction are the mid-7th century or mid-9th century. The function of the tower is also problematical. Two doorways at the base were designed to allow a sentry to walk through behind the stump of the Roman fortress wall, and there is no evidence to suggest that the tower chamber had any function other than to allow free access along the walls. The form and function of the upper part of the tower cannot be known. It may have served as a watch tower, a platform for archers or artillery, but there is no surviving evidence to substantiate any of these. The position of the tower might imply the existence of others.

Visible remains

It is a small square tower, built of stone with arched doorways and tunnel-vaulted. The remains stand to a height of over three metres, abutting up against the later Medieval City Wall.

A descriptive plaque on the Tower states:

This building is the lower storey of a tower built into a breach in the 4th century Roman fortress wall perhaps in the reign of King Edwin (616 - 632 AD). It was hidden under the Danish and later ramparts and rediscovered in 1839.

A second plaque commemorates the death of archaeologist Jeffrey Radley in 1970:

This plaque is erected to the memory of Jeffrey Radley M.A.E.S.A. who carried out the excavation of the tower and was tragically killed in a subsequent accident at the site on July 22nd 1970.
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