Phase 7: early to mid 14th century  
New property division and timber-framed Buildings P to R Matrix Diagram

Initially, two new boundary walls were constructed, implying a major reorganisation of the property divisions on the Walmgate street frontage at the start of Phase 7. A sequence of timber-framed buildings, Buildings P, Q and R, was then constructed, utilising these new walls. A cobbled yard was also laid out behind Building P, and dumps built up behind Buildings Q and R.


At the start of the 14th century, the excavation area underwent a major reorganisation. The land was cleared, the Walmgate street frontage was consolidated with levelling deposits and driven posts, and two new boundary walls were then constructed. The first of these (4005), built of limestone, cobbles, brick and tile, was situated along the Walmgate frontage, and extended the full width of the excavated area. The second boundary wall, revealed by a Phase 9 robbing trench (2139/4013), was aligned north-east to south-west, and ran the full length of the excavation area. It was on the same alignment as the present day wall behind St. Denysí Hotel. The only surviving portion of the second boundary wall (2645) was situated at the southern end of the excavation area. A completely new property layout was therefore imposed at this time.

Both boundary walls were used to support the timber superstructures of a sequence of timber-framed buildings, Buildings P, Q and R. Buildings P and Q were situated to the west of the later robbing trench 2139, and Building R to the east of it.

In the central and western portion of the site, a number of levelling deposits were laid down. These contained pottery of the 14th century and also a multi-reservoir lamp fragment (see the artefacts report). A timber-framed building, Building Q, was then constructed utilising both of the new boundary walls. Its western wall sat within a shallow beam slot (2684) and a post-hole (2712) may have held a post to support the roof. Building Q was aligned with its long axis at right angles to the Walmgate street frontage and measured c.4.5m wide and c.7.70m long. Within its north-west corner, a hearth (2679) was situated close to the Walmgate street frontage. A series of associated floor deposits (2681 and 4018) built up to the south-east and east of the hearth.

Shortly after its initial construction and early use, Building Q was renovated. The western wall of the building was altered and beam slot 2684 was backfilled. A post-hole (2676) and a hearth construction cut (2663) for a new hearth were then inserted, truncating the beam slot backfill. Further west, two post-holes including 2910 were dug, perhaps implying the expansion of Building Q to the west, but there were no floor deposits associated with the expansion. The original western wall of Building Q therefore must have simply been replaced, the new hearth being positioned adjacent to it. A number of internal floor deposits built up to the south-east of the hearth including context 2537. Floor deposit 2537 contained a re-used architectural fragment as well as a small amount of slag, an iron staple and an iron nail. Also recovered from the new hearth was a piece of iron (SF01547) coated with hammerscale. This may suggest that metalworking, particularly iron smithing, was being carried out within Building Q. There is a strong possibility, however, that this material was simply redeposited as no structural evidence for smithing was located within the building.

A second renovation to Building Q was then undertaken. A new hearth (2401) was constructed to the south of 2663 and adjacent to the western wall. A post-hole (2614) and stake-holes (35423546) interpreted as an internal partition or smoke screen were inserted to the east of it. A patch of mortar and cobbles (2642) to the east of the screen or partition may have acted as an internal post-pad for an upright post to support the eastern wall or the roof. Several clay floors including 2599 were inserted to the south of hearth 2401. These gave the impression that a raised platform was installed at the southern end of the building. The raised clay platform was heavily burnt and scorched, perhaps indicating the presence of a kitchen area or craft working area within the building. A further large post-hole, close to post-pad 2642, and several patches of clay, were then added within Building Q.

A new building, Building P, was constructed on the western side of Building Q, the floors of which sealed the western extension of Building Q. The new building utilised the boundary wall along the Walmgate street frontage, the rest of the timber frame being supported by post-pads. Building P was aligned with its long axis parallel to Walmgate and measured over 5.8m long and c.4.5m wide. Post-hole 2910 (see above) appears to have remained structurally important within the new building as it was replaced a number of times, its third replacement being a post-pad. Between the new post-pad and the front wall an occupation deposit (2808) consisting of multiple lenses of charcoal, clay, silt, mortar and sand built up. This contained a lead alloy sheet offcut (SF01510). A large hole with associated timber piles (2664) was then dug. This may have supported a further post-pad for the back wall of Building P. A build up (2806) was laid down to the east of 2808, which contained a decorative copper alloy bar mount for a belt (SF01548).

Occupation of Building P appears to have been less intensive and shorter lived than that of Building Q, as the structure only underwent one renovation. A robbing or renovation trench (2687) was excavated adjacent to the Walmgate street frontage. This suggests the robbing of the boundary wall or the replacement of a sill beam for the front wall of Building P. The backfill of this trench contained a fragment of crested ridge tile, a smithing hearth bottom, slag and iron concretions, a copper alloy buckle pin, a lava quern fragment and daub. The metalworking material may simply have been redeposited from Phase 6, rather than indicating that this craft was being carried out within Building P. A large post-hole (2636), perhaps to hold a door post, truncated the backfill of 2687, and a large number of stake-holes, of unknown function, were inserted within Building P.

A third timber-framed building, Building R, was constructed to the east of Buildings P and Q, and utilising the two new Phase 7 boundary walls. The building was aligned with its long axis at right angles to Walmgate and measured c.8.5m long and over 5m wide. Internally, three large post-pads (2086, 2321 and 2807) made of clay and cobbles were inserted, probably to hold posts that supported the roof. A bone lucet or thread twister used in textile preparation was found in one of these deposits. The building was interpreted as a warehouse rather than a domestic or craft-working structure. This was concluded from the lack of internal occupation deposits, although the building may have been floored with materials which were later robbed, leaving no trace in the archaeological record. Only one small patch of flooring (4024) was located within the north-west corner of the building.

In the backyards behind Buildings P and Q, deposits 2945 and 3190 were reworked and mixed, and further dumps (1891 and 3205) were laid down. A small pit or large post-hole (2944) truncated dump 2945 and a clearance cut chopped through the northern side of dump 3190. The cleared area was levelled off with deposits (3551, 3554, 3557 and 3558) before the construction of a cobbled yard surface (1890, 2936 and 3552) to the south of Building P. This cobbled surface contained pottery of the 14th century. At the southern end of the yard a small post-hole (3556) was inserted. A north-south beam slot (1819) truncated yard surface 1890 and two post-holes (1889 and 1894) were inserted to the east of this. These three structural elements may suggest the presence of an outbuilding or structure to the south of Building Q. To the south of this further dumps built up, including 3120, 3204, 3208 and 3209. Dump 3208 contained a coin (SF01303), a barrel padlock (SF01460) and a copper alloy balance pointer (SF01529). Deposit 3120 may have infilled a ditch or gully aligned north-west to south-east across the backyard area, or levelled an area of subsidence. Further backyard dumps were then laid down including 2960, 30543056 and 3116. These dumps contained iron slag (SF01515), an iron barrel padlock key (SF01440), a copper alloy strap end fragment (SF01264) and an iron wall hook (SF01351).

Behind Building R, wall foundation 2645 was sealed by a clay deposit prior to the insertion of a post-hole (2543). This suggests the insertion of a doorway through the boundary wall. A number of dumps and levelling deposits including 2328, 2335, 23412343, 2478 and 2498 were laid down to the south of Building R. These contained pottery of the 14th century and also butchery waste, and artefacts suggestive of copper alloy working.

A fragment of bone identified as red deer was recovered from context 2342 (see the environmental report). Venison was usually only available either through hunting or through gifts provided by patronage (Neave 1991) in this period.

Click to enlarge
Walmgate frontage boundary wall 4005

Click to enlarge
Excavating boundary wall robber trench 2139

Click to enlarge
Multi-reservoir lamp fragment (SF01425)

Click to enlarge
Excavation in progress

Click to enlarge
A complete crested ridge tile from Phase 7 backyard dump

Click to enlarge
Burgundian double tournois dated 1315–59 (SF01303)

Click to enlarge
X-ray of barrel padlock SF01460

Click to enlarge
Barrel padlock key SF01440
© Copyright York Archaeological Trust 2003