Monument record MYO4393 - Late Iron Age-Romano-British settlement


Evidence for the presence of a late Iron-Age/Romano-British agricultural settlement. Several possible double gully enclosures and a shallow ring ditch suggests some kind of enclosure or building. Several large pit-like features were also excavated interpreted as watering holes for livestock. The grouping of these features suggest the exploitation of this spring-line has ancient origins. One of the waterholes contained a well-preserved wooden wattle structure of branch off-cuts and worked pieces of timber. The feature had silted up over time accumilating within the open feature. This particular waterhole went out of use during the Iron-Age/Romano-British transition period - no dating could be obtained for the earlier deposits. The other waterholes were in use within the LIA/RB phase. There was also potential evidence of industrial use as backfills to the south of the ring gully and associated ditch contained slag waste, quern-stone fragements and possible fragments of cruicble could suggest milling and metalworking activities in the vicinity. See the 2023 analysis report for full details. The wider geographic and chronological extent is unknown without further work; there is good potential for a continuation of this archaeological landscape and in particular for the preservation of organic material as the presence of locally waterlogged deposits could extend beyond the limit of this development to the east, west and potentially the north. The continuation of archaeology extending into the surrounding area further south is unknown as to the nature of the programme of works and extensive modern truncation in the form of the pre-existing hedgerows offered limited results on the south side of Wetherby Road.


Grid reference Centred SE 5589 5151 (104m by 93m)
Map sheet SE55SE
Civil Parish Rufforth and Knapton, City of York, North Yorkshire
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (4)

Full Description

Ring gullys and double gully enclosures noted on the site. Also three large pit like features interpreted as watering holes to collect water for any livestock. Discussions with the main contractor suggested an aquifer is present running roughly adjacent to the east of the A1237 road. This would
explain the localised water table and remarkably well-preserved organic deposits discovered
towards the base of these watering holes. Additionally, the grouping of these features
suggests that this spring-line has ancient origins.

A range of striking similarities are apparent with how Late Iron Age/ Romano-British
agricultural activities at Heslington East and Wetherby Roundabout exploited the available
landscape resources during the Late Iron Age/ Romano-British transitional period. A mixed
farming economy is evident, with a significant weighting towards pastoral activity focussed on
watering and control of livestock hinging on the presence of reliable spring water. Stabilising
the sides of watering holes with wattle linings, which was at times augmented with cobbled
hard standing, implemented long term access for livestock. When maintenance became a
necessity, re-cutting was undertaken or a new watering hole was opened in the vicinity. An
element of seasonality to the availability of water is suggested by the pattern of silting and
the plant fossil remains present in some of the Wetherby Roundabout watering holes. The
positioning of boundaries in relation to wells/ watering holes would have enabled control of
livestock movement to and from those features.

Dating evidence demonstrates a continuity of pastoral activity from the Late Iron Age into the
2nd century at both sites, little influenced by the establishment of the Fortress and settlement
at York. Agricultural practice and how the landscape was managed did not, however, remain
static throughout the Roman period. At Heslington East the laying out of a new road along the
spring line appears to have been the catalyst for a substantial shift in the organisation of
landholding into the later Roman period. The 2nd century was also when the last watering hole
at Wetherby Roundabout finally silted-up, inferring that the water source there had lost its
importance by then. Given the small area of this site abandonment of the spring cannot be
seen as conclusive evidence of a comparable transition in landscape exploitation, particularly
as the area investigated at Heslington East was substantially larger, but it does at least offer
an intriguing parallel hinting at a local re-organisation of agricultural practices in York’s

YAT, 2020, Wetherby Road Roundabout WB and EXC Assessment (Unpublished document). SYO2226.

York Archaeology, 2023, Wetherby Road Roundabout WB and EXC Analysis (Unpublished document). SYO3020.

Sources/Archives (2)

  • --- Unpublished document: YAT. 2020. Wetherby Road Roundabout WB and EXC Assessment.
  • --- Unpublished document: York Archaeology. 2023. Wetherby Road Roundabout WB and EXC Analysis.

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Aug 23 2023 2:58PM


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