15 of York's weirdest street names - and the curious history behind them

York is home to some of the richest historical monuments in Britain - as well as a treasure trove of weird and wonderful street names.


How many of these York streets, snickleways and alleys have you heard of?

One of York's most famous streets, The Shambles is said to be the inspiration for Harry Potter's Diagon Alley. The name likely comes from the Anglo-Saxon "Fleshammels," the word for the shelves where butchers displayed their meat.

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An extremely short street with an extremely long name, Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate is always crowded with tourists taking pictures in front of the novelty street sign. It's believed the city's whipping post and stocks once stood there.
This street was once named "Bretgate," but the addition of a Middle English prefix: Jewe-/Ju- in the 12th century strongly indicates the presence of Jews on the street, a community who were massacred in York in 1190.
There isn't too much known about this strangely-named street, but it is thought by some the name comes from the Viking occupation of York, translating to a ford haunted by an owl.
During the Medieval period, Swinegate's name was very literal - it was the location of a pig market.
Adjacent to Swinegate, Grape Lane once had a much ruder name that referred to its history as a spot for picking up ladies of the night.
Not much is known about the origins of this quirky street name, but presumably someone was ripped off somewhere along the road...
Colliergate used to be the spot where coal or charcoal was traded in medieval times. Most of the houses in the street are Georgian.
Finkle Street - once allegedly known as "Mucky Peg Lane" - has a name that's thought to derive from the Germanic word "Winkel," meaning "corner."
The origin for the name of this passage (or "snickleway") is debated. Some believe it refers to the food "hole" for prisoners in the site's former prison, while others think it simply refers to the name of the pub there.
This narrow lane is named after Alice Peckett, who was the wife of York's Lord Mayor in 1701.
"Mad Alice" was a woman who retaliated against repeated beatings from her husband by murdering him. She went insane and was hanged at York Castle in 1825, reportedly haunting this passage thereafter.
Just next to Finkle Street stands another oddly-named street: Nether Hornpot Lane. The name supposedly relates to the area of Medieval York where horns were made.
Another road with a very literal name, Nunnery Lane is named after the nuns who live in the Bar Convent on this street.
This narrow alley is easy to miss on York's High Ousegate but is a great shortcut to Peter Lane. It's believed to be York's narrowest snickleway.