Anglo-Scandinavian Occupation at 16-22 Coppergate


list of authors
R. A. Hall
list of contributors
S. J. Allen
D. Hamilton
M. Holst
C. Tyers
J. Hillam
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 23 June 2023
Excavations at 16–22 Coppergate uncovered a large swathe of York’s late Anglian and Anglo- Scandinavian townscape on a spur of land between the Rivers Ouse and Foss. The report charts the establishment and subsequent development of four urban properties, demarcated by fence lines, which were still recognisable into modern times. A total of seventeen structures, some of them still standing almost 2m high, were excavated on these properties, arranged gable-end to the newly established street of Coppergate or on land immediately behind. Excavation of the backyards of the plots, which extended behind the buildings down towards the River Foss, revealed them to have been used for cess-pits, rubbish pits, and small-scale animal husbandry and horticulture, accessed from the structures along wattle or plank pathways.

The site was abandoned in the immediate post-Roman period and was then used for small-scale industrial activities, rubbish disposal and for casual burial in the Anglian period, before there was clear evidence for occupation there. Property boundaries were established c. AD 900 and post and wattle structures were erected on each building plot in the following decades. A period of upheaval in the mid-10th century was characterised by the abandonment of these buildings, a brief hiatus in occupation, followed immediately by the erection of semi-sunken plank-built structures arranged in single or double ranks at the street end of the site. These underwent episodes of repair and replacement over the next 50 years until they too were abandoned and replaced by surface-built structures for which only ephemeral traces survive on a single property.

Anaerobic conditions on the site resulted in extraordinary preservation not only of the various structures but also of evidence for domestic and industrial activities and for living conditions; these have been fully reported in other fascicules of The Archaeology of York series (p.540). The survival of wood allowed for a very large number of dendrochronological dates to be established and these, augmented by other scientific dates and a sequence of coin dates, provide a detailed chronological framework for the site.

A subsequent watching brief and small-scale excavation on an adjacent site revealed evidence for further properties and structures of the same character. These findings, combined with the detailed evidence from the main excavation, facilitated an unparalleled examination of a large tract of York’s townscape which includes early churches and the west bank of the River Foss, and charts the rebirth of urban life in York in the pre-Conquest period.
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York Archaeological Trust
CC BY 4.0
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