EYO6142 - Archaeology Live 2005 York Art Gallery




Location Land to rear of York Art Gallery
Grid reference Centred SE 5999 5230 (51m by 50m) (12 map features)
Map sheet SE55SE
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire



York Archaeological Trust





From the 20th June to 9th September 2005 York Archaeological Trust undertook a combined training excavation and evaluation at St Mary’s Abbey Precinct North, Marygate, York. Eleven trenches were excavated and large sections of the precinct wall were recorded. These excavations represent the first significant archaeological investigation on this important site within the walls of St Mary’s Abbey. The trenches were targeted on open spaces around standing 1940’s wartime structures. The trenches were of different sizes and excavated to varying depths, dependant on space and localised Scheduled Ancient Monument status. Natural deposits were encountered in only one area. Datable archaeological features were identified from as far back as the Roman period, with a series of cobble surfaces and associated dumping. In some places the Roman activity was sealed by a layer of ‘dark earth’, similar to that seen overlying Roman archaeology elsewhere in the city. It contained finds dating from the early 9th century. Viking age pottery was recovered in most trenches, though there was no evidence of any structures to go with it. Medieval activity was present in the form of massive cess pits, dumping and isolated traces of structural evidence. Closer to the walls of the Abbey Precinct, dumping deposits tended to slope down, away from the walls, suggesting that the walls had been constructed on a pre-existing bank or mound. The end of the medieval period was marked by a rubble, demolition, deposit in some places. Post-medieval garden soils overlay all the medieval activity, though unfortunately the isolated cut and filled features within these deposits did not display any patterns in the former garden. Disturbance in the modern period came from the construction of Exhibition Hall in 1879, its subsequent destruction in 1941, and also from the demolition of buildings on the outside of the abbey walls and construction of WWII shelters. Investigations during 2005 have shown that the site contains well preserved archaeological deposits from the Roman to the post–medieval period relatively close to the present ground level. If future development of the site were to significantly disturb the archaeology present, particularly from the medieval and earlier period, then further archaeological work would be required.

Sources/Archives (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

  • Roman Fortified Enclosure (Monument)

Record last edited

Jun 10 2020 10:49AM


Your feedback is welcome; if you can provide any new information about this record, please contact the City Archaeologist.