We then spent a good mid-summer day in Ripon, specifically to look into its marketplace history. Inevitably it was important to recognise that Ripon owes its township to Northumbria’s Abbot Wilfrid who established a monastery here in the 7th century, on the site of the present imposing Minster, from which Kirkgate has always been an important access into the developing town. This marketplace was already a trading area in Anglo-Saxon times, but the medieval 5-acre plan is what exists today, with significant ‘gate’ways. Most of the long, narrow medieval burgage plots are still identifiable, with cobbled ginnels opening into yards behind, similar to Skipton. Stone and brick masonry survives from as early as the 15th century, and the historic alley walls retain interesting features including filled-in arched doorways (presumably into yards and workshops once).

There were several inns in this trading area, many of which had coach access and stabling at the rear. The original marketplace was at the northern extent, with a market-cross, tollbooth and court, shambles, infills, bakehouse and pillory (the pillory now seen in the Police and Prison Museum.) The southern extent, with its 1702 Obelisk, was always more open, with portable stalls, and stock pens. By the 17th century the once-prolific wool and textile industry was replaced by metalwork manufacture, which notably produced the renowned Ripon rowel (the sharp-pointed wheel on spurs). Law in the bustling trading area was enforced by elected  Wakemen from the 14th Century, succeeded by Mayors and the first police force. Documents and records show the diversity of this long established market, centre of commerce and trade and centre of public gatherings.