Excavations on the site of a former hotel uncover 1,800 year old residents
The current redevelopment of the former Newington Hotel by The Helmsely Group Limited has provided York Archaeological Trust the opportunity to explore and study an important area of York’s Roman past.
Located on Knavesmire Road in York, approximately 200 yards from where YAT uncovered the Headless Roman skeletons of Driffield Terrace, the site is part of a Roman cemetery that was first exposed during excavations undertaken by L.P. Wenham on the neighbouring Trentholme Drive in the 1950s.
To date the team of archaeologists from YAT have unearthed nearly 60 burials, which are currently thought to date to a period spanning the 2nd to 4th centuries AD.
Ben Savine, Project Manager for YAT and overseeing the excavations says, “Despite the depredations of medieval ploughing and later building development, a number of graves have survived with a superb level of preservation with some including grave goods in the form of pots, dishes, flagons and beakers, and also traces of the coffins in which the dead were laid to rest.”
John Reeves, Chariman of the Helmsley Group, says, “It is every developers’ nightmare to find something like this under the ground but once identified, it is really interesting to see what is actually there and make sure that future generations get a clearer understanding of how York developed and what happened with their dead. Given the remarkable state of preservation of some of these bodies, we hope that YAT will be able to tell us much more about how they lived and died so we have been delighted to help out’’.
With excavations coming to an end, YAT are hosting a site visit on Thursday 22nd June between 1 and 2pm, where visitors can learn more about the history of the site and view some of the artefacts discovered.
Ben continues, “We are grateful to LHL Group for allowing us to excavate the site and arrange this viewing. Community engagement plays a major role within our operations as an independent Charitable Trust.”
To book a place on the visit, which is free to attend, please visit www.thejorvikgroup.com/tickets. However due to the building works being carried out, numbers are restricted. Please also be advised to wear suitable footwear.