Monument record MYO68 - Settlement? Roman


Debatable site of Roman settlement? Archaeological observations on the line of the Fulford Rising Main (EYO4582) indicate that the area of Roman activity extends at least as far as SE60504800 to the east. RLR Field nos SE60483904 and SE60485619 will contain further evidence relating to this Roman rural settlement. The Roman stone coffin observed during the road widening works at the A19/ A64 road junction (EYO635) indicate that Roman occupation extends across a wide area and that MYO68 sits within a well-developed RB landscape.


Grid reference Centred SE 6034 4804 (285m by 107m)
Map sheet SE64NW
Civil Parish Fulford, City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Area thought to be site of Roman settlement based on evidence from PRN record attached. However, after further research it seems that there may be an error in the location of this site. Finds MYO216-220 were attached to this record and were used to identify this 'settlement'. However, they have now been amalgamated into MYO214 (under parent MYO 65) on Nunthorpe Ings. It was origianlly thought that the finds may have been revealed when the ponds here were excavated but they are not visible on mapping until the mid-late 19th century.

These are the extracts from the original sources.

J. J. Sheehan & T. Whellan, History and Topography of the City of York; the Ainsty wapentake; and the East Riding of Yorkshire, 2 vols, 1856, Beverley.

Volume 2, p. 620-21

[Water Fulford]
Near the house [Water Fulford Hall], at a depth of 18 feet beneath the surface, have been found stag horns, ancient pipes, and other curiosities, and also what appears to be the handle of a large water jug, dated 1017. Some of these antiquities are in the possession of the Rev. S. Key. Some antique remains were discovered here in a gravel pit in 1770. (See vol. i, page 300.).

J. J. Sheehan and T. Whellan, History and Topography of the City of York; the Ainsty Wapentake; and the East Riding of Yorkshire", 2 vols, 1856, Beverley.

Volume 1, p.300
In the same year [1770] were found in a gravel pit on the banks of the Ouse, about one mile and a half east of the city, a number of ancient remains, consisting of fragments of Roman earthenware and pateræ (goblets), and within the compass of about fifty yards were likewise discovered a perfect urn with its [cover] and many more pieces of pateræ and urns, some very large vessels, part of an urn of crystal, an iron flesh fork, etc. At the same time and place a strange discovery was made, of which Mr. Gough gives us the particulars. A stratum of oyster shells appeared to have been laid about two feet, in some part three feet, and in others nearly five feet, below the surface, and above them was a sort of rich black earth, like soot mixed with oil, amongst which were found pieces of burnt wood. Upon this singular substance were scattered great numbers of bones of cattle, chiefly heads and ribs. Many heads of beasts were laid together in one part; and in several other parts were bones mixed with earth and fragments of earthen vessels. Near to these, about three feet below the present surface, the earth was discoloured and [greasy] as though it had been soaked with blood to a depth of two feet. In the following year, 1771, a similar discovery was made in another gravel pit not far from the former, and the particulars of which are also given by Mr. Gough. "Within this pit, between layers of earth and gravel," writes he "was another of black earth intermixed with burnt wood, and under it a layer of oyster shells. In the middle of the pit was a hillock of the same strata, mixed with fragments of urns, some inscribed Ofroni, Caius, etc. Some of the larger ones and of the pateræ were adorned with vine and ivy branches, &." In this pit were also found a number of antique remains, amongst which were a flesh fork, a brass needle, various fragments of urns, a large iron bolt, a whole patera with ears, some others broken, and a small urn of coarse red clay with a cover of bluish clay. These remains favour the opinion that a Roman temple had stood in that locality, and that these were the remains of sacrifices offered in the dark ages of pagan idolatry.

Research by Tim Gates, York:
Has the compiler of PRN 2617 conflated two (or more likely three) different find groups, only one of which involves Water Fulford (vol 2, p. 620-621, as in the reference). As you will see from the transcript, the finds from 'near the house' [Water Fulford Hall] do not include anything identifiably Roman. The (now flooded) gravel pits on Fulford Ings do not appear on the 1st edn OS 6" map, surveyed in 1846/7 and published in 1851. The first gravel pit here is shown on the OS 25" map surveyed in 1891 and published in 1893, and others on the 25" map revised in 1906 and published in 1909. so these gravel pits do not appear to date any earlier than a date between 1846/7 and 1891.

So there is reason to suspect that the 'antique remains' found in a gravel pit in 1770 were not in fact found on Fulford Ings.

Sheehan and Whellan, vol. 1, p. 300 describes two different finds, including Roman material, made in 1770 & 1771 (same dates as mentioned in PRN 2617) but almost certainly not at Water Fulford. Both finds are referenced to 'Mr Gough' which can only mean Richard Gough's editions of Camden's Britannia of 1789 or 1806. As quoted by Sheehan and Whellan, the finds made in 1770 and 1771 correspond to those reported by PRN 2617 but are said to have been found 'in a gravel pit on the banks of the Ouse, about one mile and a half east of the city'. The 1771 finds are said to have come from 'another gravel pit not far from the former'.

Fulford Ings lies about three and a half miles from the city centre. But, in the late 18th century, there were other gravel pits 'beside the river Ouse' two miles from the city centre. There were on Nunthorpe Ings, c.SE 600 496. I take it that the description 'east of the city' given by Sheehan and Whellan (quoting Gough?) should be read as 'south of the city'.

The RCHME volume 'Roman York'. p. 63, site (49) describes 'Occupation debris, revealed by chance in the 18th century, was found on the gravel terrace overlooking the Ouse 1½m. S. of York . . . . '. The reference given is to Gough's 1806 edition of Camden's Britannia. Clearly RCHME believed this to be the correct location of the finds made in 1770 and 1771 as referred to by Sheehan and Whellan in their vol 1, p. 300.

In other words, the placing of the finds described as MYO217-220 should be relocated to Nunthorpe Ings, c. SE 600 496.

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Record last edited

Mar 4 2021 11:48AM


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