Coppergate Archaeology now Complete with Publication of Final Tome

Coppergate Archaeology now Complete with Publication of Final Tome

38 years since archaeologists first started digging in the area known as Coppergate, York Archaeological Trust has published the 21st – and final – volume in its series of books chronicling the archaeology of York, as uncovered during the five years spent digging into York’s waterlogged history between 1976 and 1981.

The final volume has been completed by Dr Alisa Mainman, finishing the work of her late husband, Dr Richard Hall who led the Coppergate dig.  Dr Hall passed away in 2011, and Dr Mainman has been determined to see the final volume, entitled “Anglo-Scandinavian Occupation at 16-22 Coppergate: Defining a Townscape”, published.

“The Coppergate dig was an immense undertaking, with around 40,000 archaeological contexts identified, and tonnes of historic items, from five tons of animal bones to a quarter of a million pieces of pottery from the last two millennia – a real archaeological treasure trove, including the most complete preserved Viking-age structures in the UK, which inspired the creation of the JORVIK Viking Centre,” comments Dr Mainman.  “Richard spent much of his working life involved in interpreting and publishing the findings of that research, and when he passed away in 2011, I was keen to ensure that the final volume of research would be completed and published, so I am delighted that I can now hold his final book in my hands.”

Coppergate bookThe publication covers the most detailed analysis of the most complete Viking-age buildings found in the UK, how they were preserved and what they tell us about life in Anglo-Scandinavian York.  “I was working to Richard’s plan and with his notes, and it has certainly been helpful knowing how his brain worked so that I could decode cryptic messages that he left for himself,” adds Dr Mainman.  “With field workers Dave Evans and Kurt Hunter-Mann, we were able to complete the book, even using some cutting-edge dating techniques to add more details and answer some of our questions, but it is likely that this will be the final book published by the Trust which looks at the Coppergate dig.”

However, Dr Mainman highlights, that it is probably not the end of the Coppergate story.  A memorial conference was held in York earlier in the year with Viking experts from around the world not only looking back at past discoveries but also at what may come in the future.  “The documents and deposits will be available for many years, and we know that many scholars and students have already forged their careers using these materials.  As new analysis techniques emerge, this archive will remain dynamic for decades to come, and in the meantime, visitors from around the world can continue to explore the Viking city within the JORVIK Viking Centre.”

The book is available from York Archaeological Trust for £17.40 plus p&p, online here.

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