Phase 1: 10th century  
Timber Buildings A to E and industrial activity Matrix Diagram

A sequence of timber buildings, Buildings A to E, was recorded within the two deepest parts of the excavation area: Area Q along the Walmgate street frontage, and a small portion on the eastern side of the site, which was to be used for a lift shaft. Buildings A and B were located within the lift shaft area. Buildings C to E were located within Area Q, and were separated chronologically by industrial deposits.


Within the lift shaft the earliest deposits revealed the presence of an alley to the west of a timber building, Building A. The alley was defined by two stake and wattle fence alignments (38363845 and 38573867), c.0.80m apart and running at almost 90 degrees back from the Walmgate street frontage. Organic deposits built up within the alley and in the area to the west of it. Stake and wattle alignment (38463856) may relate to an earlier version of the alley. Building A measured over 2.6m long and over 1.3m wide, being defined by the easternmost stake and wattle alignment and a series of floors and occupation deposits, some of which were organic. Unfortunately the building and its floor deposits produced no dating evidence, but as it was sealed completely by later Building B which was dated to the late 10th or early 11th century, it suggests that a mid to late 10th century date for Building A is not unreasonable.

Building A was then demolished, the alley cleared, and a number of levelling deposits laid down before the construction of a new building, Building B, which covered the entire base of the lift shaft (2.6m x 2.6m). Two timber uprights may have supported the roof or acted as a partition within Building B. One of the floor deposits within the building was analysed for environmental evidence, and the results suggested that the building was being used for the processing of wool and domestic occupation. A spindle whorl (SF01330) from a floor deposit within the building supports this interpretation. In addition leather off-cuts (see the artefacts report) were recovered which may suggest that the building was also being used for leatherworking. Pottery from several floor deposits dates this building to the late 10th or early 11th century.

In Area Q, close to the Walmgate street frontage, the earliest deposits suggest levelling before the construction of a building, Building C, the function and date of which were unknown. The size of the building is also unknown as it extends beyond the limits of excavation. Building C was soon demolished and a series of industrial deposits consisting of hearths and hearth rake-off materials were laid down. A hearth use deposit within this sequence produced a smithing hearth bottom, suggesting that metalworking was being undertaken.

Following the industrial activity, several buildings were erected within Area Q. These consisted of two adjacent buildings, Buildings D and E, which measured over 2.75m and 5.7m wide respectively. This implies that at least two separate properties existed at this time. Building D consisted of clay levelling (4197) and a linear slot (4190), aligned north-south, which contained five vertical posts (including 4168, and 41924194). A backfill deposit which surrounded posts 4168 and 4169 and filled slot 4190 was dated by pottery to the late 10th or early 11th century. Building E consisted of an east-north-east to west-south-west alignment of wooden stakes and posts (4187 and 41984200). These were interpreted as an internal partition within the building rather than a major load-bearing wall. A post-pad (4171), post-hole and post (42024203) were also associated with Building E on stratigraphic grounds. There was no evidence from either building to suggest their function but their orientation suggests an alignment further north-east than the present street. Both buildings were then demolished and the area sealed by a further sequence of dumps, hearths and hearth rake-off deposits, some of which contained hammerscale. This was interpreted as a second sequence of industrial activities. These deposits were the only ones within the phase to contain tile and also contained pottery of the late 10th or early 11th century.

Excavations in 1999 during a Time Team Live TV programme revealed two Anglo-Scandinavian post-and-wattle walls in the westernmost trench. On examination these belonged to adjacent buildings facing Walmgate. In the eastern trench Anglo-Scandinavian deposits were encountered, but no structures were located. Small stratified Anglo-Scandinavian and medieval groups of pottery and artefacts were recovered as well as well-preserved ecofacts from the waterlogged Anglo-Scandinavian deposits.

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Floor surface in Building A

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Bone spindle whorl SF01330

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Building D (in the foreground)
© Copyright York Archaeological Trust 2003