The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
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In 1318 July 12, Abbas et conventus beatae Mariae Ebor (Abbot Alan de Nesse) were granted, by Edward II, (In year 12 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate abbathiam beatae Mariae (York Abbey)
Licence for the abbot and convent of St. Mary's, York, to crenellate their abbey, which is without the city of York, but is contiguous thereto, provided that the wall to be constructed between the abbey and the wall of the city shall not exceed 16 feet in height and shall not be crenellated. By K. (CPR)

Abbas et conventus beatae Mariae Ebor ... abbathiam beatae Mariae (The Roll adds "quod ipsi abbathiam suam praedictam extra civiatem nostram Ebor. eidem civitati contiguam muro de petra et calce in solo suo proprio pro suo libito firmare et kernelare. Ita tamen quod murus inter dictam abbathiam et murum civitatis praedictae per ipsos abbatem et conventum constructus vel construendus sexdecim pedes in altitudine non excedat nec etiam kernelletur, &c.") Ebor., Ebor. (Turner and Parker)

Granted at Northampton. Grant by King.


The licence has unusual restrictions clearly showing the concern of the citizen of York and the effect this fortification had on their town wall. Relationships between town and abbey were often strained, with the relationship with the archbishop being an additional complication. The year after the licence was issued an inspection, by the archbishop, found the abbey in a poor financial state.

This wall, as it now stands, is crenellated, in some parts with slots for shutters in the merlons. It does not, however, have a solid masonry wall walk, like the rest of the city walls, although a wooden wall walk may have existed.

Original source is;

(In fact, the original source given is usually a transcription/translation of what are precious medieval documents not readily availably. It should be noted that these transcription/translations often date to the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries and that unwitting bias of transcribers may affect the translation. Care should also be taken to avoid giving modern meaning to the medieval use of certain stock words and terms. Licentia is best translated as 'freedom to' not 'permission'.)

Significant later sources are;

Abbot Alan de Nesse (d. 1331)
Abbot Alan de Nesse, 1313, died 1331

More information about licences to crenellate can be found here.

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Record created by Philip Davis. This record last updated on Sunday, October 4, 2015.