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York Archaeological Trust Shortlisted For Prestigious National Awards

York Archaeological Trust has been nominated at the British Archaeological Awards 2014 for Best Archaeological Project, Archaeological Innovation and Best Public Presentation of Archaeology.

Shortlisted for Best Archaeological Project, the seven-year-long Hungate excavation ran from 2006–13 and was one of the biggest developer-funded excavations in the UK. It offered exceptional community archaeology and educational opportunities adding value to the experiences, insights and knowledge to all involved. The excavation uncovered numerous buildings, related deposits and thousands of finds charting the changing use of this part of the city from the Roman period, when it was partly used as a cemetery, through to Viking and medieval occupation and up to the late 19th and early 20th century when Hungate was a notorious slum district within the city. Hungate offered a rare opportunity to look at a 2000-year slice of York’s history, its people, their buildings and their way of life.

YAT’s Dickson Laboratory for Bio-Archaeology, based in Glasgow, is nominated for Archaeological Innovation following their pioneering work into time-lapse photography recording body recovery for criminal investigation. The technology acts as a powerful tool to help juries and legal professionals understand the interpretations drawn by the forensic archaeologist excavating a clandestine burial, demonstrating the perpetrator’s efforts into body concealment. The technique, used several times in court to prosecute guilty offenders, has been praised by the UK Crown Prosecution Service as being a ‘powerful forensic technique with significant application’ and is now shown by Police Scotland to every new Crime Scene Manager trained in Scotland.

Working in partnership with the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society and the SCAPE Trust, YAT’s digital laser-scanning of the Wemyss Caves 4D project has been nominated for Best Public Presentation of Public Archaeology. The caves near East Wemyss, are special because of the rare Pictish artwork of abstract symbols and animal representations carved onto their walls over one thousand years ago.

David Jennings, Chief Executive for York Archaeological Trust, says; “Being shortlisted in three separate categories at this year’s BAAs is an excellent achievement for York Archaeological Trust and is testament to all the hard work YAT does in driving forward innovative, archaeological presentation to both the public and private sector."

More information on the British Archaeological Awards


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Kate Kenward working on the Horn of Ulf
York Archaeological Trust’s conservators Mags Felter, Kate Kenward and Leesa Vere-Stevens have recently been involved with the preparations for the York Minster Revealed project to re-display the Undercroft at York Minster.  Several items needed conservation intervention to make them ready for display including the Horn of Ulf, a large elephant ivory tusk carved with beautiful images of animals and leaves, and the coffin lid of Archbishop Walter de Gray's monument dated 1255AD, painted with an image of the Archbishop in reds, blues and with some traces of gold leaf.

Roman wall-plaster in York Minster UndercroftThey also worked on a large section of Roman wall-plaster from the Principia, previously displayed but needing to be rotated through 180° to marry  up with the section of original wall to which it belongs. This required the dismantling of the 15 separate panels, moving them and reattaching them to their new scaffold, after which the gaps could be filled and in-painted once more.




A remarkable Late Bronze Age vessel from Lincolnshire has been restored and prepared for display by YAT's archaeological wood conservation facility. The new heritage centre at Brigg unveiled the 'raft' in May 2013.

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Marcus Abbott at Stonehenge

One of the country’s most famous and most studied historic landmarks has undergone the first ever comprehensive digital examination of the surface of its stone, by Yorkshire archaeologists.

Detailed analysis of the first comprehensive laser survey of Stonehenge has been carried out by Sheffield-based ArcHeritage, part of the York Archaeological Trust educational charity.

Archaeologists have developed a brand new technique and undertaken digital analysis for English Heritage at Stonehenge, revealing monumental evidence which changes previous interpretations of the stonework and the site.

Marcus Abbott, ArcHeritage’s Head of Geomatics and Visualisation,says; “The stones have several texture and surface variations which camouflage subtle features that cannot be seen by the naked eye.  With digital technology we were able to strip off the texture and apply new surface texture which enhanced the archaeological features.

“Combined with using different ‘virtual’ lighting set ups and angles we could then start to see surface detail on the stones.  We created new technology called ‘Luminance Lensing’ and combined it with photogrammetric data which has taken our analysis to a completely different level.”

This study tells us many new things about Stonehenge and its creators.  The method tells us how Stonehenge was positioned to create visual impact for people approaching the monument from the north-east via the Avenue.  It also provides an indication that the stones located in the centre of the monument might have existed before the outer ring of stones was created.

It has also revealed 72 new prehistoric axe carvings, in addition to the 44 carvings previously known at Stonehenge.  This find makes it the largest collection of these prehistoric axe-head carvings found in the UK.

The technique developed by ArcHeritage has major potential to impact on the survey techniques used in the heritage sector. The analysis carried out by ArcHeritage is part of a much wider research project by English Heritage which started in 2007.  For more information about ArcHeritage’s involvement and new research technology, please visit www.archeritage.co.uk.

For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact Hannah Trinder or Karen Nixon on 01904 610077 or email hannah@partners-group.co.uk

Recent Discoveries

brainExcavations at Heslington to the east of York have unearthed an extensive prehistoric farming landscape. A skull discovered on the site was found to contain intact brain tissue – the oldest surviving human brain found in Britain, dating to the 6th century BC. The skull is now being studied by a team of specialists to determine how it survived and glean any information about life and death in Iron Age York. More details in Yorkshire Archaeology Today issues 16, 17

Hungate sunken buildingThe Hungate site has recently uncovered the remains of a timber-lined sunken building similar to those found at the nearby Coppergate site excavated in the late 1970s. Timbers from the Hungate building have been dated by dendrochronology to the late 960s AD. Full article will appear in the next issue of Yorkshire Archaeology Today.




© York Archaeological Trust 2007