Mickelgate Bar - York
There are Medieval walls surrounding the city of York, England and they still have their entrance gates or Bars around them.
This first one is Mickelgate Bar - from their website mickelgatebar.com and wikipedia:
The name Micklegate comes from Mykill (great) and gata (street). (Old Norse)
Situated on the route of York’s famous walls walk, Micklegate Bar has stood sentinel to the city for over 800 years. The upper two floors contain living quarters, which today are a museum of the bar, and the city. Its symbolic value led to traitors' decapitated heads being displayed on the defenses. Heads left there to rot included: Henry Hotspur Percy (1403), Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham (1415), Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York (1461), and Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland (1572).
That sterile information is what it is -- but something altogether different happened to me when I first stumbled onto one that first early morning in York. I knew about them of course but we just started ambling (it's our favorite way to explore a city, just go walk aimlessly) and we turned a corner andblam there was Monk Bar in our face. I think we actually exclaimed, whoa haha :)
Every single (and it's considerable) fantasy book I've ever read absolutely came to life in my mind when I discovered these and roamed through the gate that countless millions have trod through the centuries. I was transported back to the Middle Ages and imagined what it must have been like -- unfortunately there was a problem here, as I know quite well how squalid everything was in the Middle Ages and while I still, in some ways, romanticize -- I really can't do it anymore. It was adisgusting and vile time to live and so I stood there, my brain warring with the need to glamorize and to be accurate. It made me less wistful than I think I would have been a decade ago.
I was still pretty wistful.
For the few people who will get it -- understand that I was in some kind of elevated state of bliss discovering these. I felt a direct line to all the books I've read, in a really silly kind of way but I can't be embarrassed by the feeling. I felt in a state of transportation - most English probably take this for granted but as an American with medieval proclivities this was a delicious feeling. I just feel like Ibelong there on that island. At the very least my imagination does, if not my physical being.
©Jennifer Bailey 2013 Mickelgate Bar, York, England