Bones from the Medieval Deposits at 16-22 Coppergate


list of authors
J. M. Bond
T. P. O'Connor
Is Part Of
The Archaeology of York [Series]
The Animal Bones [Volume]
Council for British Archaeology for York Archaeological Trust
Date Copyrighted
Date Available
Digitally available on 1 December 2023
The report presents a detailed analysis of 11th to 15th century bone assemblages from 16-22 Coppergate, and a synthesis of those data with assemblages of the same period from other sites in the city (58-9 Skeldergate, 118-26 Walmgate, 24-30 Tanner Row, 46-54 Fishergate, The Bedern, Bedern Foundry, 1-5 Aldwark, 21-33 Aldwark, 1-2 Tower Street, 9 Blake Street). The data from Coppergate and some other sites have not previously been published. Data from the first four sites listed above have been published in AY 15/1-4, and are re-examined here. The large assemblages from Coppergate are quite similar to each other, and some differences in the abundance of different taxa or different skeletal elements can be explained by the preferential survival and recovery of large and robust bones. Mortality data showed little change from the Anglo-Scandinavian period, apart from an increased culling of young lambs and sheep just over one year old. This is interpreted as indicating adjustment of flock demography by a summer cull. A range of wild birds was identified in the Coppergate assemblages, though none was particularly abundant, and many were probably scavengers rather than an exploited resource. Fish bones from Coppergate show the gradual replacement of estuarine taxa by deep-water gadid species, especially haddock. Analysis of bones recovered by sieving shows house mouse to have been especially frequent at Coppergate.
The city-wide analysis shows some patterning of deposition which may be interpreted as showing deposits which contained more butchers' than household debris. Across the medieval city as a whole, cattle are much the most abundant taxon, with sheep generally outnumbering pigs. Goats are represented by deposits of horncores in a limited number of contexts at each of three sites. These appear to have been sites of horn collection and working. The ecclesiastical college at The Bedern gave assemblages with numerous young calves, quite unlike the rest of the city. There is also evidence from discontinuous skeletal traits that the sheep represented at The Bedern came from different populations to those elsewhere in the city, and the site gave an unusually diverse assemblage of fish taxa. Other evidence indicating differences between broadly contemporaneous sites came from an analysis of the rate of dental attrition in sheep from Coppergate and Tanner Row, and from a biometrical analysis of the goat horncores from Skeldergate, Tanner Row and 21-33 Aldwark. Comparisons are drawn with data from other medieval towns in eastern England, especially Beverley, and there is a discussion of the presence and absence of particular wild birds at different sites.
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: 77 (97 views)