There is history in every little nook and cranny you see in the city of York. Once the Romans took control in 71 AD the rest actually is history…

Many moons passed until York was once again invaded, this time by the Vikings who eventually ended up settling within the city. They renamed the city Jorvik, built farms in the countryside and more Vikings moved over, with the centre became mint an important market for local goods – pretty similar to how it is today!

There’s a very popular part of York which actually holds an extensive history, and that is York Races. As this years races draw to a close, we have a little look at its history…

The Racecourse is the third biggest in Britain, and has attracts over 350,000 guests per year, making it a staggering attraction for the city of York. However today, you’ll think about putting on your best gear, having some drink with your mates and betting on some horses – but the races actually date back to the Roman era under Emperor Severus, making it an over 2000 year old sport within the city.

Whilst horses raced in 71 AD and probably under the Vikings too, according to York Corporation records, the city of York didn’t support racing until 1530 – over 1500 years later. In 1607, it is known that racing took place over a frozen river Ouse, between Micklegate Tower and Skeldergate Postern Tower – which was apparently a narrow pointed archway with a single gate which was demolished in 1803.

There was also a famous yearly race for a golden bell was taking place in the nearby Forest of Galtres in 1590. It’s safe to say that these races were a bit of a different taste of scenery to the modern day Racecourse we have come to love.

There’s no official date for the opening of the York Racecourse in its current location, just the knowledge that it was erected some time in the 18th Century in the south-west of the city, next to the former Terry’s of York chocolate factory. Since then, it has undergone 5 renovations, with new stands added to cater for the increased demand for the races and the concerts they hold within the venue.

There have been a number of memorable events for the Racecourse, from Pope John Paul II visiting in 1982, to hosting the Royal Ascot in 2005, to the second day of the 2014 Tour de France starting from the Racecourse. The races have been an key partner within York’s history, and will continue to be in the future.

Next time you’re watching a concert, betting on a horse or just having a laugh with your mates – remember, you’re supporting a tradition over 2000 years old in the city of York.

To find out what’s going on at York Racecourse, have a look at their website here.