Hungate 'Block G' Excavations

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In Spring 2018, York Archaeological Trust completed the latest phase of the ongoing excavation at the Hungate development in York.

The works took place in Block G of the development, which is presently occupied by the Hungate marketing suite and involved a borehole survey and an evaluation trench. The work was funded by Hungate (York) Regeneration Ltd.

While the archaeological potential of the site was very high, Block G had thus far received limited investigation and was at that point the least understood part of the development. In advance of construction, this phase of works aimed to assess the condition and nature of deeply buried deposits and to monitor the impact of the project on the site’s hydrology through the installation of a water monitoring point.

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The borehole survey created a detailed deposit model for the site, providing evidence of what kind of material was present at varying depths across the area. Unbelievably, one borehole hit a well-preserved timber upright which, considering the depth it was struck and what we already know about Hungate, is most likely to be Anglo-Scandinavian in date. The evaluation trench was excavated to a depth of four metres and provided a window into a complex sequence of archaeology covering two millennia. Pits and levelling deposits from the Roman period were the earliest features to be observed, and were found to be overlain by Anglo-Scandinavian domestic activity.

A low bank of cobbles and clay was discovered, most likely marking the rear of a plot that would have fronted onto the Viking street of Hungate. A contemporary refuse pit was found to contain very well preserved organic material. Cutting into this early medieval horizon was a proliferation of medieval pits that relate to the long use of the Hungate area as a dumping ground in this period. A period of abandonment in the 15th and 16th centuries was followed by the deposition of a thick deposit of soil; evidence of the area’s use for horticulture in the post-medieval period. The later archaeology was typified by surfaces and buildings from the 19th century, a time when the Hungate area was crowded with terraced houses and industrial buildings.

The excavation proved to be very successful in demonstrating the excellent levels of preservation that can be found in the waterlogged deposits beneath York.

Aerial photography courtesy of David Dodwell