Finds from Parliament Street and Other Sites in the City Centre


list of authors
Dominic Tweddle
list of contributors
J. Bayley
N. G. Berridge
C. Caple
J. Henderson
P. J. Ottaway
D. M. Palliser
P. Walton Rogers
S. E. Warren
Is Part Of
The Archaeology of York [Series]
The Small Finds [Volume]
Council for British Archaeology for York Archaeological Trust
Date Copyrighted
Date Available
Digitally available on 13 October 2023
The finds discussed here are derived from excavations and/or watching briefs at the Parliament Street sewer trench, Midland Bank (11-13 Parliament Street), 34 Shambles, and the churches of All Saints Pavement and St Mary Castlegate, all these sites being close to one another in the commercial heart of the Anglo-Scandinavian and later medieval city. Observations at the Parliament Street sewer trench are discussed in AY3, AY6/1 and AY8, the results of the work at St Mary Castlegate in AY8/2, and an account of the excavations and observations at All Saints Pavement, 34 Shambles, and 11-13 Parliament Street appears in AY10/2. The pottery from 11-13 Parliament Street and 34 Shambles is published in AY16/3.

At All Saints Pavement excavations preceded underpinning of part of the structure. Finds were derived from the later medieval to modern levels in the churchyard, and from the black organic levels of presumed Anglo-Scandinavian date encountered beneath. At St Mary Castlegate the two principal finds (1250 and 1251) were discovered during clearance by workmen of the upper levels in the nave, rather than from the area of the excavation. At 34 Shambles the finds derived from workmen’s excavations in organic deposits underlying the cellar floor of a standing building. At 11-13 Parliament Street sewer trench black organic levels of the Anglo-Scandinavian period were encountered along its whole length. To the north-west there were only pits and fence lines; to the south-east remains of timber structures were found. The trench also sectioned the underlying Roman fortress wall. Finds were collected from the spoil.
Most of the finds are formally unstratified, but many can be dated on the basis of their form and function, sometimes in conjunction with the meagre evidence provided by the archaeology.

Roman finds from the five sites are few, the most important being the well-preserved ploughshare and coulter (717 and 718), and the stone mould (689) for making pewter dishes, both from the Parliament Street sewer trench. The other finds are of a purely domestic nature like the gaming counters (688 and 696) and the vessel glass from the same site which includes the rim and handle from a bath flask (698), part of a mould-blown vessel (699), and fragments of two wheel-cut beakers (700 and 701).

Anglo-Scandinavian finds are more abundant and include evidence for manufacturing. Waste antler tines from the Parliament Street sewer trench and the Midland Bank site, and the tooth plates (751 and 752) from the Parliament Street sewer trench, probably derive from the manufacture of single-sided composite combs like 743. The crucible (697) from the Parliament Street sewer trench was used for melting brass. Leather offcuts and fragments of possible Anglo-Scandinavian date from the Parliament Street sewer trench suggest that leatherworking was taking place in the area. Some of the shoes from the site are of this date as are three decorated sheaths, 753-5. Other finds include a pair of shears (710), a spoon bit (712) and key (715), all from the Parliament Street sewer trench, and an iron ringed pin (1233) from All Saints Pavement.

Medieval finds are the most abundant from these five sites and include important industrial evidence. The ampulla mould (979) and copper-alloy offcuts and wires (1213-15) from 34 Shambles indicate that metalworking was taking place there. That glass was being worked on or near the site in the 12th century is suggested by the discovery of nearly 200 beads, many of them malformed, together with glassy waste of similar chemical composition. A blank for making an iron knife (960) from the Parliament Street sewer trench indicates that ironworking was taking place, and there is an iron-smithing furnace base (1199) from 34 Shambles. In addition there are medieval tools such as the axe from Midland Bank, items of dress such as a buckle loop, annular brooch and strap-end from 34 Shambles, and domestic items like the wooden bowls and the keys from Midland Bank and the padlock bolt from 34 Shambles. A chalice and paten (1250 and 1251) from St Mary Castlegate have probably come from the grave of a priest.

The numerous post-medieval finds from these sites are catalogued but not discussed.
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York Archaeological Trust
CC BY 4.0
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