EYO71 - Germany Beck, Fulford




Location Fulford
Grid reference Centred SE 6156 4912 (896m by 788m) (69 map features)
Map sheet SE64NW
Civil Parish Fulford, City of York, North Yorkshire
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire








In total sixty four trenches were excavated at the site which covers approximately 16ha. Those excavated to the east and west of Fordlands Road provided little evidence for intensive archaeological activity in the past. The trenches to the west of the A19 were barren and showed natural accumulation deposits which had only been disturbed in relatively recent times by the insertion of land drains. The trenches excavated in the allotments showed a similar picture, the earliest feature encountered was a medieval field boundary and the latest were animal burials and post holes and fence lines associated with allotment activity. The series of trenches excavated immediately to the north of Germany Beck were interesting in that an hitherto unknown source of peat was located which provides an opportunity to relate its existence with land use and management in earlier periods. The trenches excavated to the south of Germany Lane and on the higher terrace land from the stream were disappointing in that only a substantial modern rubbish tip was found and an area of intense burning. No early features were encountered which was surprising considering the close proximity to water and given that it is much higher in level than the land to the south. Within the Western Block the main point of excavation concentrated on Trenches 5/6/43. This large scale excavation provided the opportunity to define and relate a series of ditches which related to a field system which originated in the early Roman period and probably was also apparent in earlier periods, if the background incidence of worked flint is taken in to consideration. It would appear that the ditches which make up this field system were in use from the first through to the fourth century AD. The occurrence of amphorae and Samian in quantities which are too high for a rural site, the large cache of pottery from Trench 41 and building materials which suggest a high status building in the region of the site all adding to the problems of relating the evaluation excavations undertaken in 1996 with how this site fits into the complex inter-relationship of the hinterland of York and the fortress. Pottery and building materials were not found in great quantities in the excavated trenches (other than Trench 41), as one would expect on a rural site. The pottery assemblage appears to take its influences not from York as to be expected but from East and South Yorkshire traditions. Even the building materials are more closely affiliated with the civilian production rather than military. Based on the evidence to date it is clear that the land which forms the Western Block at the site was being systematically divided over a considerable period of time. The poor preservation of organic material in the sands away from the waterlogged deposits to the immediate north of Germany Beck mean that environmental evidence is of no help. The finds assemblage which argues for the presence of a building was not forthcoming in the archaeological record and therefore one can only assume that if it exists, it is not on the site, but either laying to the south of Germany Beck on the higher land or under the modern housing development to the west of the site. Although the Roman period at the site is of course of importance, it is also necessary to highlight the pre-historic component of the project. Fieldwalking and the Desktop survey had found and noted the presence of flint artefacts both on and close to the site. The excavations have substantially increased the flint assemblage and sherds of Iron Age and Neolithic pottery clearly indicate that early man was in this area and using, if not settling the land. A high proportion of the ditches excavated had little associated material to place them firmly in the Roman period and it is possible that a number of these ditches do date to earlier periods of activity on the site. This was suggested by excavation in Trench 11 and also Trench 41. The Eastern Block was disappointing in the nature and form of the features encountered. Apart from the occurrence of Iron Age activity in Trench 56 and the background scatter of flint from a number of trenches, the two brick buildings were the only other real archaeology encountered. The majority of the trenches produced only evidence of hedge lines. Field walking of the Eastern Block and then the Geophysical survey had shown how quiet this area was in comparison to the Western Block. The excavation explained this to some degree, but further explanation may come from the soil types encountered in the east. The Eastern Block was characterised by shallow topsoils which extended straight down onto clays, with only a small section of this area being onto sands. The difficulty in cultivating clays and the poor crop ratios may explain why this area was avoided by the Romans and the native inhabitants who preferred the easily tilled sands to the west. The site has been considered in semi-artificial units based in the main on land boundaries present today, but this site forms a large tract of land which needs to be set into its landscape context.

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Unpublished document: MAP. 1996. Germany Beck Fulford Archaeological Sample Excavations.

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Record last edited

Feb 14 2022 3:04PM


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