Micklegate Bar was the most important of York’s four main medieval gateways and the focus for grand events. The name comes from ‘Micklelith’, meaning great street.
It was the main entrance to the city for anyone arriving from the South. At least half a dozen reigning monarchs have passed through this gate and by tradition they stop here to ask the Lord Mayor’s permission to enter the city.
The lower section of the bar dates from the 12th century, the top two storeys from the 14th. The building was inhabited from 1196. Like the other main gates, Micklegate Bar originally had a barbican built on the front, in this case demolished in 1826.
For centuries the severed heads of rebels and traitors were displayed above the gate, the many victims include Sir Henry Purcey (Hotspur) in 1403 and Richard, Duke of York in 1460. The last of the severed heads was removed in 1754.