A bishop of York was summoned to Arles council in 314AD
indicating the presence of a bishopric and presumably a cathedral
church at that time. Despite this in 627AD a wooden church had to
be rapidly built to provide a place for the baptism of King Edwin of
Northumbria (d.633). A stone replacement built for King Oswald
(d.642) was standing by 637 but was dilapidated by 670 when it was
repaired and renewed and Saint Wilfrid (d.709/10). After being
burned in 741 it was rebuilt to contain 30 altars. The fate of
the church through the Viking invasions is uncertain, but Archbishop
Ealdred crowned William I in 1066. The church suffered damage in
1069, but was repaired by the first Norman archbishop, Thomas Bayeux
(d.1100). Damaged again in 1075 it was again rebuilt, damaged and
repaired again repeatedly. The current standing structure was
begun in the early thirteenth century and not completed until 1472 and
is the second largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe.
Despite this, some of the window glass is claimed to date back to
the twelfth century.
Hidden from view in the crypt are the foundations of an elongated apse
encased by a later crypt 45' in length and 5' thick. The lower
courses of this are faced with rough herringbone work which was
probably supposed to be under original floor level.
Paul Martin Remfry