New inclusions to the HER

The Historic Environment Record is constantly updated with new archaeological events and associated reports. Here are a few new additions which may be of interest.

Late prehistoric and Romano-British landscapes

The final analysis has taken place on the Wetherby Road roundabout excavation has now taken place and is now available here.  

In addition, the HER has recently received reports on geophysical survey and evaluation excavation at Broad Highway and Hardmoor Farm, Wheldrake undertaken by North Duffield Conservation and Local History Society in 2018 and 2019. This work was undertaken as part of a larger project on the Iron Age River Ouse and Derwent .

These pieces of work, along with older excavations such as those at Heslington East and forthcoming reports on recent works at Boroughbridge Road, are presenting a picture of land-use, exploitation of the natural environment and settlement on the fringes of York from the mid-late Iron Age to early Roman period.

The investigations at Wheldrake revealed a multiple-phase round-house settlement of middle Iron-Age to the 1st or early 2nd century (Roman) date. While it was a relatively small site, perhaps originally an isolated farmstead, over the course of its occupation it saw multiple phases of reconstruction that indicate it was a location of some importance.   By the end of its occupation at least, it appears to have been integrated into a complex system of enclosures and field systems spreading across a large part of the surrounding area.

The excavation of watering holes and a round house at Wetherby Road roundabout as part of Outer Ring Road widening works has presented a high-quality dataset in terms of preserved organic remains. 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. At Wetherby Road a mixed farming economy is evident with watering and control of livestock hinging on the presence of reliable spring water. Stabilising the sides of watering holes with wattle linings, at times augmented with cobbled hard standing, ensured long term access for livestock.    

Dating evidence demonstrated 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. The last watering hole at Wetherby Roundabout silted-up in the 2nd century, inferring that the water source there had lost its importance by then.  Similarly, at Heslington East and seemingly at Wheldrake, a re-organisation of agricultural practices was taking place in York’s hinterland in the 2nd century. 

Roman York

An assessment report  is now available on a rather deep excavation which took place on Queen St near the Windmill PH as part of utility works ahead of works to the Station Frontage. This small window on Roman York contained a large number of pottery sherds which will be fully analysed and compared with other local assemblages. A possible road surface was also revealed although it’s exact use cannot be verified.

There will be more to say about Roman York following further analysis on the Queen St findings and from the recent excavations at Micklegate so watch this space!

The City Walls

During August and September 2022 a program of repair and rebuild took place to ensure stability of the section of wall immediately to the north of Micklegate Bar. The works involved the rebuilding of part of the parapet wall including newly installed lime mortar and two investigative trenches to the exterior rampart and walkway.

The wall was recorded by photogrammetric survey prior to dismantling. The works provided further information relating to 19th and early 20th century alterations to the structure and walkway. The full report can be read here.

Also during 2022, Tower 35 was subject to archaeological evaluation  during works to investigate cracking to the stonework. The investigation added to the information available on the construction and adaptation of this section of the walls.

The walls here were restored by Fowler Jones 1857-58 with further work in 1864. Drawings from 1857 show Tower 35 was only missing its parapet. This suggests that everything above the current walkway at Tower 35 can be dated to the 1850s and 60s potentially re-using some medieval stone. No evidence was found for the original construction of Tower 35, principally due to the very limited extent of the excavation area.