Source/Archive record SYO2571 - St Leonard's Hosptial, Museum Street, York. Updated Assessment Report

Title St Leonard's Hosptial, Museum Street, York. Updated Assessment Report
Date/Year 2011


Information regarding the turf and stone phase defences of the Roman legionary fortress and associated intervallum activity was recovered. Activity on the intervallum to the rear of the turf rampart included a rubbish pit, followed by industrial activity represented by a series of hearths and ash deposits. The stone defences appear to be of one phase of construction, and radiocarbon dating of timber piles from beneath the Multangular Tower indicates that this construction took place in the early 2nd century, two centuries earlier than the generally accepted date. There were indications that the rampart associated with the stone defences was built up over a long period of time, perhaps into the Anglian period. It also seems that the rear of the Multangular Tower was dismantled in the later Roman period or (more probably) the Late Anglian period, and replaced with a rampart. Evidence for early medieval activity was largely restricted to a possible Anglo-Scandinavian timber building. There was no evidence to associate this with a postulated pre-Norman Conquest foundation of the hospital of St Peter (later St Leonard). The fortress rampart was reduced in the early 12th century, but it was not until around the middle of that century that an undercroft – thought to be that of the infirmary – was built on this levelled area. The orginal building was found to have been larger than previously thought, probably extending to the north-west wall of the fortress and presumably incorporating the Multangular Tower. The walls of the Roman fortress, which survived to wall-walk level, formed the south-west and north-west walls of the undercroft, with the walls of the infirmary above being of medieval build. Interval Tower SW6 was probably largely dismantled at this time, although its nort-west wall seems to have formed the south-east wall of the undercroft. In the later 12th century, the area south-east of the undercroft was dominated by a large ditch of uncertain function. The ditch was infilled in the early 13th century, and the area was then occupied by timber buildings. Food processing and metalworking apparently took place in the undercroft, which seems to have been subdivided from time to time to accommodate such a range of activities. The undercroft was extended to the south-east in the early 14th century, and a chapel and entrance passage attached; the bulk of this extension forms the extant standing building. This building work incorporated a large stone-lined drain running beneath the undercroft. The south-west fortress wall was dismantled here and replaced with a new wall that articulates with the extant city wall that runs down to Lendal Tower. This suggests that this major remodelling of the city defences took place at this time, rather than in the Anglo-Scandinavian period as recently suggested. Following the closure of the hospital in the 16th century during Henry VIII’s Reformation, most of the infirmary was demolished. However, part of it, and the chapel annexe, was retained. Evidence for post-medieval use of the rest of the site mostly comprised industrial activity. Evidence for landscaping of the area in 19th century was unearthed, representing the use of the site as part of the documented Garden of Antiquities, then in the early 20th century as a lawn alongside York Central Library. The entrance and part of the main chamber of a Second World War concrete public air-raid shelter was also found. Evidence of several antiquarian and archaeological investigations of the site was found.

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Record last edited

Nov 10 2020 2:22PM


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