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A Trail of Two Rivers

Without the River Ouse and River Foss; the Merchant Adventurers, their Hall and the City of York would not exist.

Through this trail and the Hall’s unique collections, explore the legacy of the rivers from fortune and flood, exploration and opportunity to fashion and commerce.

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Commercial ships sailed up the River Ouse for over 2,000 years. The river, once tidal through York,  was the route from Northern Europe. Ships loaded and unloaded goods onto the city’s staiths, creating a vibrant trading hub. By the 14th Century, York was the richest city in the country after London.

The name "Ouse" is of Celtic origin from the word "usa/ussa" which means water. The River Ouse is the River Water! The name Foss originated from the Latin for ditch, "Fossa" or from Old Norse "Foss" meaning Waterfall.

Lower Floor

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