Monument record MYO5241 - Public Air Raid Shelter, Library Lawn


Air raid shelter, 1939-1945, located in the lawn on the south-west side of York Central Library to hold 94 people.


Grid reference SE 6003 5206 (point)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Public air raid shelter located in the lawn on the south-west side of the pbulci library. The air raid shelter was excavated in 1999 during a Time Team excavation and again as part of York Archaeological Trust's training excavation in 2003-2004.

Trench 5

The earliest feature encountered in this trench was a short length of concrete foundation in the west corner of the trench, in the base of a 20 th century excavation trench, at about 14.6m OD. The 20th century excavation trench was narrow and exposed only the south side of the foundation; the full width of this structure is therefore uncertain. This structure had been partially truncated by the air-raid shelter construction cut (5080), and displayed pick axe marks which appear to represent a failed attempt to remove the foundation during the air-raid shelter construction.

Fortress rampart

A friable dark grey silt loam which contained late Roman pot and part of a Roman toilet implement was excavated out of sequence as it had been exposed by the air raid shelter construction cut.


North-west wall of undercroft

A possible wall aligned north-east/south-west and consisting of roughly-hewn limestone blocks was observed in the north-east side of the air-raid construction cut. This feature could be the remains of the north-west wall of the undercroft.

Air raid shelter construction and demolition

Sealing the path and deposits in the north-east half of Trench 5 were two thick grey/orange mottled silty dump/levelling deposits. The first (5031-2) infilled the stone edged pathway, whereas the second (5021 and 5027) was more extensive and sealed the path. This activity apparently involved the infilling of the 19th-century landscaped garden, and might have taken place as part of the construction of the air-raid shelter. A small
shallow sub-rectangular cut (5026) which removed one of the path edging stones may have been dug at about the same time. On the south-west side of the trench was a narrow, linear cut with vertical sides, aligned north-west/south-east (5080). To the north-west it reached the south wall of the Multangular Tower, which prevented further digging. The base of this cut was not reached even in a test excavation that reached 2m below ground level. No sign of the air raid shelter structure was found, nor was 5080 wide enough to accommodate the structure
previously observed in Trench 3. Nevertheless, this cut is cautiously thought to be associated with the construction of the Second World War air-raid shelter. Cut 5080 was truncated by a massive, steep-sided irregular cut that occupied much of the south-west half of Trench 5 (5070). It contained a range of mixed rubbly fills 5002-3,
5007-8, 5010, 5022-3, 5036-7, 5041). Cut 5070 is thought to have been associated with the demolition of the air-raid shelter.

Derived from SYO446 ST LEONARD'S HOSPITAL MUSEUM STREET, YORK An Interim Report on an
Archaeological Training Excavation 2003

Trench 4

Evidence for the 19th century Garden of Antiquities was was truncated to the north-west by a vertical-sided cut with a flat base (4031). In the base of the cut on the north-east side of Trench 4 was a layer of brick rubble (4025/7), which is interpreted as a bedding layer. South-west of 4025/7 was a flight of at least four concrete steps leading downwards to the south-west, bounded by a reinforced concrete wall on the south-east side (4009). This structure is considered to be the entrance to the Second World War air-raid shelter previously encountered in Trenches 1, 3 and 5. It was cut from a higher level (probably into Levelling 4003), but its upper most stratigraphic relationships had been removed by a later cut.

Structure 4009 was filled with reinforced concrete fragments (4010), still connected to the wall of the air-raid shelter in some cases. Above rubble 4010 was a thick layer of clay (4019). These deposits are thought to represent the demolition and backfilling of the air-raid shelter.

Derived from SYO1129 ST LEONARD'S HOSPITAL MUSEUM STREET YORK. An Interim Report on an Archaeological Training Excavation

ARP Emergency Committee, 1940, Civil Defence Handbook, A guide to householders (Booklet). SYO2664.

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Booklet: ARP Emergency Committee. 1940. Civil Defence Handbook, A guide to householders.

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Jul 1 2021 8:22AM


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