Mark’s History: Burley Bar’s Stone’s crucial role in Middle Ages


Burley Bar Stone

In the Middle Ages Leeds as we know it was about the size of town and anyone wanting to enter Leeds to trade would have to go through the Bars, writes Mark Stevenson.

Leeds wasn’t fortified like some other towns at the time, so it had checkpoints (buildings) of a sort on the main roads into it, thought to have been made of wood (a 1720s map of Leeds shows them as such).

Burley Bar Stone

There were six of these checkpoints in total. The North Bar was where the old red bus station was, the East Bar near the Parish Church, South Bar at Leeds Bridge, West Bar where the Observatory Nightclub was, Burley Bar near where Leeds Building Society is and Woodhouse Bar where Dortmund Square is now.

Burley Bar Stone

As time went on the checkpoints were removed and replaced by a stone to show the boundaries of Leeds.

There were certain advantages to living within the stone boundary, like paying less tax and be exempt from jury service.

Three of the stones still survive today at the Old Red Bus Station, Parish Church – and the Burley Bar one is in the Leeds Building Society on Albion Street.


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