Beneath our feet and hidden away in nooks and crannies of Britain’s towns and cities, there is still a treasure trove of ancient wonders to be found–we’ve learned that from important finds in recent years such as the Staffordshire Hoard, and, of course, King Richard III’s grave in Leicester. Even more recently there have been some interesting historical places, including medieval roads, hermitages, castles and town walls, re-discovered in Yorkshire and gaining new interest from the public. Some were/are hiding in clear site, with the local towns growing up and over them. Others lay in the countryside, hidden away on estates or covered by foliage.
One site of particular interest is Common Hall Lane in York, which runs alongside the 14th c Guildhall, a place Richard would have known well. Both the hall and the medieval lane were constructed over the site of the Roman road that runs through York. In later times, the lane was closed off and now lies behind a locked wooden door which is on the water level. Being so near the river, it apparently floods often. The Guildhall is undergoing restoration at present and it is hoped that when the work is complete, Common Hall Lane will be re-opened as well.
Another site that has received recent attention is the medieval Hermitage that lies under the old Pontefract General Infirmary. A series of chambers run underground, containing a 72 step staircase, the hermit’s bed, bench, and fireplace, a well supposedly filled with magical, curative water and a macabre carved skeleton, representing death, who holds up a spear. At present, there is no general access to the cave…but there are occasional open days arranged by the custodians.
Scarborough Town Walls have also recently been added in to heritage walking tours of the area. These walls were in fact raised on the orders of Richard in 1484, replacing older structures,. Only one section still remains–near a car park. A blue plaque commemorates Richard’s renewal of the town’s defences; the King also renovated the castle at the same time.
HIDDENHERITAGE–LINK TO LIST OF SITES
York Guildhall–with the door to Common Hall Lane visible
Plaque to King Richard’s Wall in Scarborough