Whilst the history of York as a settlement dates back to the first century AD, there is evidence that people have lived in the surrounding nearby for thousands of years. Polished axes from the neolithic period (4000-2500 BC), flint tools from the Bronze Age (2500-800 BC) and Iron Age burials all point to centuries of human habitation – although perhaps not permanent settlement.
The Romans founded the city of York. They invaded Yorkshire in 71 AD and built a fort between the rivers Ouse and Foss. By the mid 2nd century a small town grew up by the fort. Craftsmen and merchants came to live there because the soldiers in the fort provided a market for their goods and ships could sail up the River Ouse.
The Roman name for York was Eboracum, which may be derived from Celtic words meaning the place with yew trees. By the early 3rd century Roman York was protected by a stone wall. In the town there were public buildings such as a baths. Rich people lived in very comfortable houses with mosaic floors.
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However in the 4th century Roman civilization began to break down. The last Roman soldiers left Britain in 407 AD and afterwards Roman towns were abandoned and they fell into ruins.
York is one of England’s finest and most beautiful historic cities. The Romans knew it as Eboracum. To the Saxons it was Eoforwick. The Vikings, who came as invaders but stayed on in settlements, called it Jorvik. York’s more recent history has also characterised the city. There’s the iconic York Minster and architecture from medieval times, its magnificent Georgian town houses and its Victorian railway station.
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