Anglian Settlement at 46-54 Fishergate


list of authors
R. L. Kemp
list of contributors
E. P. Allison
A. Hall
A. K. G. Jones
H. K. Kenward
A. Robertson
S. Vaughan
Is Part Of
The Archaeology of York [Series]
Anglian York (AD 410-876) [Volume]
Council for British Archaeology for York Archaeological Trust
Date Copyrighted
Date Available
Digitally available on 10 November 2023
Excavations on the site of the former Redfearn National Glass Factory at 46-54 Fishergate, York, took place between February 1985 and September 1986, in advance of redevelopment. The site lies directly east of the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss, on relatively high ground. The earliest extensively excavated deposits relate to an area of settlement remains (c.2,500m2), which date between the late 7th or early 8th century and the mid/late 9th century. The occupation fell into two distinct archaeological periods (designated 3a and 3c) separated by a highly distinctive site-wide deposit (3b) representing possible abandonment. The first of these (Period 3a) consisted of a series of large well-spaced properties limited to the east by a boundary ditch. An east-west line of pits marked the southern edge of this strip of settlement which contained post-built structures, their associated pit groups, latrines and possibly middens.

This first stage of settlement showed evidence of having been planned, well-ordered and well-organised; not the result of organic growth. Its location, at the junction of two rivers with an important east-west land route, as well as the evidence from finds and pottery for craft activities and trading, particularly with the area of the Rhineland and Northern France, lead to the hypothesis that it was part of the trading wic, from which Eoforwic derives its name. This is supported by the close similarities of the settlement's position relative to other such contemporary sites.

The wic may have been established by, and designed to serve, the nearby royal and ecclesiastical centre which was probably based on the area of the Roman legionary fortress. The compelling evidence for a highly specific and restricted food supply with minimal diversity (discussed in AY 15/4) might suggest that the wic was not supplied via an open market but indirectly, via the controlling authority which was drawing upon an already restricted supply of food collected from food rents.

At some point all the Period 3a structures were apparently demolished and a highly distinctive charcoal-laden deposit was systematically spread over the entire settlement area, although it was not the result of burning in situ and was more like domestic waste, perhaps from surface middens, mixed with fire sweepings (Period 3b). Cutting this deposit was a further ditch associated with a number of pit groups (Period 3c).

Occupation may have continued in this more limited settlement into the late 9th century, when it is suggested there was a population shift across the River Foss closer to the legionary fortress.
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York Archaeological Trust
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