The archaeology of All Saints, North Street spans from prehistory to the present day. Our third season at the site will see us excavating 19th century burials, post-medieval workshops and searching for evidence of lost medieval buildings. 

The All Saints, North Street excavations. Image courtesy of David Dodwell

The All Saints, North Street excavations. Image courtesy of David Dodwell

The 2016 excavation season will see us return to the grounds of All Saints, North Street to pick up where the 2015 season left off. The excavation will cover many periods of York’s history, from early 19th century burials, to medieval occupation deposits, as well as evidence of the city’s Viking and Roman past.

Spring Excavation

March 28th – April 8th 2016 (Monday-Friday)

Summer Excavation

June 27th – September 16th 2016 (Monday – Friday)

Autumn Excavation

TBC (email to register interest)

Weekend Excavations

April 9th – April 10th: Fully booked

May 28th – May 29th: Fully booked

*Extra date due to high demand* July 9th to July 10th: Fully booked

August 27th – August 28th: Fully booked

Post-excavation courses (2016)

December 5th – December 9th

December 12th – December 16th

Digging in the August sunshine.

Digging in the August sunshine, 2015

Course Information

From a one day taster, to an intensive four week course, there are options to suit everybody.

One week and longer courses

Taster courses

Weekend courses

How do I book?

To book a place, just send an email with your preferred dates and any questions you may have to

One of the team will get right back to you with booking forms and any further info you require.

What will we find?

This is always the big question, but in the case of our site, we do know the answer – a lot! Urban archaeology rarely fails to deliver wonderful finds and features, especially in the unparalleled layers beneath the streets of York!

Over the last two seasons, the 18th and 19th century horizon has yielded evidence of an ever changing landscape that began the 1800s as a busy (and rather smelly!) light-industrial yard, before being absorbed by the church to become a burial ground in 1826. This quiet place of remembrance received the remains of parishioners old and young until 1854, when York’s churchyards were deemed full and closed. In 1860, All Saints church hall was built and was used as a Sunday school, a mortuary chapel and even a boxing club, until its demolition in 2013.

Pre-dating all of this, we have discovered elements of a much altered post-medieval rectory, wall footings that could once have been a row of medieval cottages and pits and deposits relating to the site’s 12th to 14th century occupation. This season, we aim to look more closely at these features and to see what surprises are laying in wait beneath them.

The Rectory

The walls uncovered in 2014-15 relate to an 18th century re-build of the rectory, however earlier stone footings had been incorporated into the structure. As we pick apart this building, will we find evidence of the original medieval rectory? Can we find evidence of how people were using the building and how this changed over the centuries?

Looking down on the Rectory walls.

Looking down on the Rectory walls.

19th century burials

We have already identified the burials of almost 70 individuals dating to the years between 1826 and 1854. In the 2016 season, we aim to locate any remaining graves to record in-situ and, if necessary, relocate to ensure they aren’t damaged by future redevelopment of the site. During this process, we hope to learn as much as we can about the people who lived through the times we are studying.

Excavating 19th century burials

Excavating 19th century burials

Industrial structures, pits and surfaces

The area was a busy place in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The 2016 season will see us continue to excavate these features and learn more about the industrial practices of the day. We have already found evidence of the tanning and horn-working industries that indicate the area would have been somewhat pungent two hundred years ago! What else can we find about this productive period of All Saints’ History?

All Saints, 2015

All Saints, 2015

Medieval archaeology

The site is surrounded by ancient buildings, some of which may once have stood within the excavation area. The 2014-15 season saw us beginning to uncover tantalising evidence of this, with substantial structural features appearing below 18th century industrial layers. Whether there are more walls waiting to be found, and precisely what buildings they were once part of, is something we hope to resolve in 2016.

Going back even earlier, we have also begun to encounter surfaces and occupation spreads of 12th to 14th century date. As we go deeper into the medieval horizon, we hope to learn more about how the site was used during the peak of the church’s medieval splendour.

Click here to learn about the medieval finds from our 2014 season.

Juliet exposing a medieval occupation layer.

Exposing a medieval occupation layer.

The Vikings

Nearby excavations and the site’s proximity to the River Ouse (once a major international port) mean that we have a strong chance of encountering Viking archaeology. We know there was a lot of Anglo-Scandinavian activity nearby and it would be wonderful to learn about the site’s 10th century development.

Pandora's beautiful cornelian intaglio.

A beautiful cornelian intaglio found during the 2015 season.

Roman archaeology

While stratified Roman archaeology is likely to be buried below metres of later deposits, the 2014 team unearthed a wealth of Roman material. This ranged from high (and low) status pottery, evidence of luxury goods (amphorae, hypocaust tiles), well preserved coins,  part of a glass ring and a beautiful intaglio stone (picture above). The site lies close to the Roman bridge across the Ouse and is located within the wealthy heart of the colonia, or civilian part of the city. While we may or may not reach the deeply buried Roman features, we are certain to find more Roman finds and learn how people were using the area at the dawn of the 1st millennium.

Click here to learn more about our Roman finds.

Everything else!

While the 2014-15 seasons focused on post-medieval to 18th-19th century archaeology, the continuous use of the site over countless centuries means that many early artefacts have been re-deposited into later layers. For example, a 19th century context dug in 2014 yielded part of a neolithic polished stone axehead! With York’s wealth of archaeology, anything is possible!

Bea and Emma showing off their completed plan.

Showing off a completed plan.

The Archaeology Live! training excavation provides a way to learn about and participate in excavation, recording, planning, finds processing, environmental sampling, and processing.  Any other specific requests for training may also be available on application. Professional field archaeologists provide all the training throughout the course.

During Archaeology Live!, the archaeology will be excavated and recorded by the trainees; the trainers teach and assist when required. It is a field-based training program where people learn by doing the excavation, and by discovering and recording the archaeology themselves, rather than by classroom-based tuition.

For more information contact:


Mobile: +44 (0) 7908 210026