Jorvik (York) is situated in the plain known as the Vale of York, with the Pennine uplands to the west, the rolling Yorkshire Wolds to the east and the North York Moors to the north-east. By its location, York commands the important north-south routes which make use of the wide, flat Vale and which connect the Midlands of England to the far north of England and the Scottish borders.
York is also on a site which, until relatively modern times, was the most suitable place for bridging the River Ouse. Downstream from York, the Ouse and the Humber are increasingly affected by depth, strong currents and tidal influences, making them difficult to bridge.
The confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss, forming a deep ‘Y’ junction, was important in determining the site of York and the two rivers reinforced its early defensive perimeter. In time, the settlement outgrew its original site and by 1066 it extended well to the south-west of the Ouse and east of the Foss.