A0512 Wellington Row


A0512 Wellington Row
Alternative Title
1987.24 Wellington Row
1988.24 Wellington Row
1989.24 Wellington Row
1987.24 Leedhams Garage
1988.24 Leedhams Garage
1989.24 Leedhams Garage
1988.24 Stakis Hotel
1989.24 Stakis Hotel
The earliest deposits encountered on this site, situated close to the River Ouse, were at least 1.60m depth of silts which probably primarily derived from river deposition. The area may have been waterlogged and the subject of periodic flooding. A road, originally founded on a brushwood base, running from the south-west leading towards the River Ouse was dated to c.71-120. A large drainage ditch prehaps associated with the construction of the road gradually silted up after c.125. This drainage ditch was sealed by what may have been a flood deposit. A further drainage ditch, dating to the mid 2nd century indicated continued attempts at land management. The remains of a timber structure within this ditch may have controlled the flow of water.

A stone-lined trench containing a lead water pipe ran along the main road, and this road was widened c.120 or later. Another street, running parallel to the River Ouse, was identified as part of the early layout of the area. Its position was altered, moving closer to the river, after the construction of a stone building in the later 2nd century.

This large rectangular stone building utilised the riverside street and the edge of the main road as foundation for its walls where they coincided with these roads; substantial foundation trenches with deep timber piles were required elsewhere. Four central roof supports were located down the spine of the building. Three of these had been robbed and one remained standing. A cobble surface at the north-west end of the building may have been a courtyard. The earliest surface inside the building was cobbled and showed no internal division, indicating the building's primary function was to provide a covered space that may have been used as a store place, or warehouse. Traces of a contemporary building to the west of the main building were also encountered, although here the area of excavation was not large enough to allow the form and function of this building to be revealed.

An oven was constructed on the western wall of the building and cut through the earliest floor. Charcoal-rich ashy deposits were found within the building, alternating with thin sand layers, and may relate to the use of the oven. Evidence of a timber structure associated with the oven was also found, followed by a build-up of further use deposits. These were distributed widely within the building and suggest that the use of the building was, at this stage, dominated by the oven. Evidence from a trench to the north-west suggests that the contemporary use of this area was as one of open ground where rubbish pits were cut.

In the early 3rd century the oven was sealed and a long series of changes in the internal layout of the building occurred. Internal walls were erected and a mortar floor was laid in part of the building. A major internal alteration was preceded by a levelling deposit, above which was evidence of a timber floor, superseded by a mortar floor in one area of the building. A small area was also defined by limestone flags.

The next phase of development was found in the south-western part of the building where timber flooring had been constructed. It would appear that the building was divided centrally at this time. This floor was seriously damaged by fire, c.220; subsequent deposits may be interpreted either as the remains of floors or as levelling prior to redevelopment of the building.

In the area approximately 20m to the north-west of the building post-holes and post-pads provided evidence for another building, erected c.225. To the south-west, part of one wall of another building, located largely outside the area of excavation, was found. Additionally, a long wall of indeterminate function, running close to the south-west wall of the main building, was recorded. Later robbing made the dating of this construction difficult to establish on stratigraphic grounds or on the basis of ceramic dating. The wall and the building have been interpreted as possibly contemporary with the re-development of the main building. This took the form of demolishing the north-western end wall and extending the building a further 4m to the north-west. A crushed limestone floor was found throughout the extended building with indications that this surface was kept clean. Stone blocks located along the south western edge of the building were the remains of structural entities contemporary with the installation of this floor.

Pit cuts of unknown function were made in this surface and an alignment of post-holes was found in the centre of the building. Deposits in the south-eastern half of the building indicate that it was again divided or that different activities took place in parts of the building. Ceramic evidence suggests that these build-up deposits may have included accumulated dumped stock or cargo, reflecting the waterfront location. This material was cut through to bury a wooden box which was subsequently sealed by further dump and build-up.

A ditch to the north-west of the building was backfilled in what was likely to have been a single episode of specialist rubbish disposal, incorporating glass and fine pottery wares dating to the 3rd century, possibly also indicating disposal of dumped stock or cargo.

Use of the building becomes more diverse with separate structures erected within the shell of the building, possibly incorporating the standing walls. In the south-east of the building a beam slot and a buried pot, and a storage pit covered with limestone, illustrate the occupation of this part of the building, and were followed by another phase of construction and occupation. Similarly, in the south-west corner of the building a phase of occupation and construction are represented by stake-holes and build-up. In the north-west of the building a sandy floor and several phases of stake-holes representing slight timber constructions, followed by a further sandy surface in which a pot was buried. Fragmentary remains of several surfaces, mortar, pebble, sandstone and a possible beam slot indicated further occupation in this part of the building.

In the area to the north-west of the main building evidence was found for a complex series of timber structures dating to the 3rd century. In the same area, parts of a later stone building, possibly dating to the late 3rd century, may have had a covered courtyard. A pottery jar was recovered from silt beneath a floor level in this building. A demolition deposit within the building dated to c.360 or later.

The character of the next series of deposits suggests that the main building had become derelict and roofless. Several processes of deposition are involved and they collectively combine to create a depth of material amounting to approximately 0.50m widespread within the area of the building. It sealed several structural elements and was banked up against standing masonry and had uneven surfaces. It appeared to constitute dumped material which showed some signs of compaction as though it had been walked on at various levels. Some of the material from its inclusions was likely to have been demolition derived and some had derived from the decay of the standing building. Ash and charcoally dumps indicate waste from possible industrial processes and dumps including a large number of animal bones may indicate the disposal of domestic, or butchery waste. Domestic occupation was clearly in the vicinity. Ceramic evidence suggests that there was some reworking of the dumped material, particularly latterly. The area was used over a period of time as an area for dumping and the building decayed and was partially demolished during this time. Ceramic evidence dates this to the period c.360-410. Provisional coin dates place the latest as c.388.

The remains of an unmortared counterpitched wall and the indication that there may have been another similar parallel wall, both respecting the alignment of the standing building, indicate a phase of construction which may have incorporated parts of the standing building. Ceramic evidence suggests this was dated to the 5th century and was associated with late/sub-Roman pot forms. It was superseded by a further series of dumped deposits of similar nature to those preceding it, ceramic evidence suggesting reworking, and the main Roman building underwent further decay and demolition. There was an increased amount of demolition-derived material within the dumps and a few isolated cuts. The demolition of the building continued over a long period and similar processes occur in the building to the south-west.

A more active phase of robbing occurs with the digging of specific robbing trenches. The robbing appears to be of a spasmodic and piecemeal nature. The area became one of pit digging. These pits contained organic fills and building debris and were sealed by a layer of demolition derived material which was in turn cut by further pits, some of which had timber linings. A building represented by post-holes and a hearth was located in the north-west of the site. A further phase of pit digging including cess pits and rubbish pits was confined to the northern corner of the site. Further structural activity was shown by a tile-edged hearth and associated brick structure. Later features found on the site were a late medieval cess pit on the north-eastern edge of the excavation, and two brick-lined wells of Victorian and modern date.
Excavation (trial)
1987 – 1989
York Archaeological Trust
Patrick Ottaway (excavator)
Kurt Hunter-Mann (excavator)
Rhona Finlayson (excavator)
A Clarke (excavator)
Spatial Coverage
Wellington Row, York

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