Town & City Historic Maps
From medieval times to 1850
York is one of the most important and best-known cities in northern England. Founded around AD 71, York began as a legionary city with a substantial fortress and became an important city in the Roman empire — the emperors Hadrian, Septimius Severus, Constantius and Constantine the Great all visited York. In decline after the Roman period, York became important again under King Edwin of Northumbria who founded the famous Minster church and, after the Viking invasion of the 9th century and a change of name to Jorvik , the city continued as a prosperous river port and administrative centre.
Throughout the Middle Ages it continued to prosper as a centre of trade and housed more than 45 churches, large religious houses and hospitals. The Minster was relocated and became the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe. After the Reformation and the dissolution of the monasteries, York gradually developed as a centre for trade and services, based as it was on the Great North Road.
After an active involvement in the Civil War, York became the home for wealthy merchants and traders, and many of its most attractive houses and buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries. By the time the railways arrived at the end of the 1830s, the city was an elegant, prosperous place.
In the background, the map shows York at the dawn of the railway era, when York’s early railway station had arrived just inside its medieval walls. The pattern of settlement and streets, most on the lines that we see today, is evident and it is clear from the map how densely settled the medieval and later city was.
All of York’s best-known buildings are shown — the Minster, St Mary’s Abbey, York Castle (shown as the debtors’ prison!), the city walls and bars or city gates, the city’s only river bridge over the Ouse with chapel and prison on it — as well as the many churches which served the city.
The map also carries a brief history of the city (written by Dr Peter Addyman, former Director of York Archaeological Trust) and a comprehensive gazetteer explaining the development and stories of the most important buildings, streets and sites shown on the map, as well as listing all the city's churches.
Its first edition (published by Old House Books) won the Stanford's Award for Printed Mapping of the British Cartographic Society 2014. It also took the British Cartographic Society Award 2014 which is the BCS's 'Best in Show' prize.
Please note: Our maps are available to buy through local booksellers and other outlets in the cities featured, or by ordering through any bookshop or online book retailer. The Historic Towns Trust currently does not sell its publications directly, but they should be easily available to purchase through your usual book retailer by quoting the ISBN provided.