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University archives reveal hidden stories of York

Posted on 22 November 2016

Key events and characters behind York’s colourful past have been brought to life in a new book being launched at a University of York public lecture.

The red devil can be found watching over Stonegate.

Stories of York, which includes the history behind the red devil on Stonegate and the escapades of notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin, draws upon text and images found at the University’s Borthwick Institute for Archives, University Special Collections, and York Minster Library. 

It answers some important historical questions, such as what was behind the arson attack on the Minster in 1829, and how did chocolate became so important to York?

Using images of artefacts as diverse as a lock of human hair, a tobacco box and a surveying instrument carried by Captain Scott on his final voyage, the book explores the local stories of York’s varied history.

Cult of the book

Stories of York will be launched at a public lecture led by Professor Brian Cummings, from the University’s Department of English and Related Studies.  The lecture, called ‘The Cult of the Book’, will re-examine 400 years of the relationship between the worship of idols and the worship of books and the way we view books as both ‘things’ and as visual signs.

University Special Collections and York Minster Librarian, and author of the book, Sarah Griffin, said: “The books and archives at the University and York Minster are full of stories that reveal a vibrant, sometimes magical, and often intriguing history about the ancient city of York.

“The book invites you to begin your journey towards finding out more about the delightful and stirring Stories of York and encourages you to start exploring the archives of the city and maybe even write a story of your own!”

The ‘Cult of the Book’ lecture takes places on Thursday 25 November, Spring Lane Building, Campus West, at 6.40pm.  To register for the event, please visit:

Further information:

Copies of the book can be bought at the ‘Cult of the Book’ lecture or online:

Media enquiries

Samantha Martin
Deputy Head of Media Relations

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322029