St Mary Bishophill Junior and St Mary Castlegate


list of authors
L. P. Wenham
R. A. Hall
C. M. Briden
D. A. Stocker
list of contributors
T. F. C. Blagg
P. C. Buckland
E. Coatsworth
J. A. Darrah
H. K. Kenward
D. Tweddle
Is Part Of
The Archaeology of York [Series]
Anglo-Scandinavian York (AD 876-1066) [Volume]
Council for British Archaeology for York Archaeological Trust
Date Copyrighted
Date Available
Digitally available on 10 November 2023
One of the city of York’s oldest standing ecclesiastical buildings is the parish church of St Mary Bishophill Junior which is built on a pronounced ridge on the south-west side of the River Ouse. A site to the north of the church was excavated by L. P. Wenham in 1961-3 and 1967, and a description of the post-Roman levels forms the first part of this report. The evolution of conditions within a decaying Roman town house is discussed and its history traced into the 10th century. Notable features include a spread of fish remains, re-attributed here to the late Roman period; enigmatic evidence for a subsequent series of internal modifications to the Roman structure; and a group of burials, some accompanied by artefacts, and one of them coin-dated to c. AD 905-30.

The main part of the report records the survey of the fabric of the west tower of the church which was undertaken in 1980. The survey, based on photogrammetrically produced elevations and including a petrological analysis illustrated in colour, sought to obtain information about the structural history of the tower which has been the subject of considerable debate. An analysis of the resulting information suggests that the tower was built to a single design in the third quarter of the 11th century. The masonry from which it is constructed is mostly re-used from earlier buildings or structures, largely of Roman date, although there are also a number of fragments of Anglian and Anglo-Scandinavian funerary sculpture; these are discussed in a separate section. A series of putlog holes mainly on the exterior elevations was discovered, from which a reconstruction of the scaffolding system has been suggested. Insect remains from some interior putlog holes are discussed. It is suggested that the tower may originally have been designed as a ‘turriform nave’ in which the space under the tower served as the ‘nave’ and was accompanied only by a small ‘chancel’ to the east. The tower has been repaired on many occasions but, in particular, it is argued that the interior arrangements were completely reorganised in the later 15th century, probably as a result of the replacement of an original bell-frame.

A final section of the report describes contractors’ excavations within the church of St Mary Castlegate in 1975, which revealed foundations for an early chancel. Fragments of pre-Conquest sculpture and enigmatic worked stones, which were also uncovered, are discussed together with a piece recovered in the restoration of 1870.
Rights Holder
York Archaeological Trust
CC BY 4.0
Portable Document Format (PDF)
Is Format Of
Paper publication
page start
page end
number of pages

Position: 158 (24 views)