York is a city with an abundance of internationally significant archaeology and over the last 16 years our training excavations have made some truly amazing discoveries! This summer, we’ll be taking things up a notch and opening up a second excavation in the heart of the city and this time we’re on the hunt for the Vikings!

Cleaning back in 2006

Cleaning a newly opened trench back in 2006

Where is the site?


St. Saviour’s Church, York

We will be excavating immediately adjacent to DIG on a plot of land next to the St Saviour’s Church. To some of you this will be familiar to this site as we located Archaeology Live! 2006 on that site – we are returning after a decade away.

It goes without saying that the same great training will be taking place at All Saints North Street, the site we started in 2014, but there is now a second option.

This will be limited to those who have already completed some training with us as we will be running this season with a slightly less tightly structured training schedule.

When is the excavation?

We will be excavating at St. Saviour’s from Monday June the 27th, for 8 weeks until Friday 19th August.

How do I get involved?

As mentioned above, this excavation is limited to those who have previous Archaeology Live! experience. There is, however, the option for new starters signing up for a two week course to get the best of both worlds and do one week at each site. Course costs will be the same for each of the two sites, email trainingdig@yorkat.co.uk to book your place on this groundbreaking dig!

Duration                                       Price                                   Returnee/Friends of YAT

One week£250£230
Two weeks£440£400
Three weeks£580£530
Four weeks£690£640
Excavating a medieval gully.

Excavating a medieval gully.

What will we find?

Commercial excavations in 2004, Archaeology Live! 2006 and building recording that took place in 2012 have all highlighted a complex sequence of buildings, roads, other structures and activity which goes back to the Viking period. There are also significant volumes of Roman finds which suggest there will be Roman archaeology at lower levels if they are reached.

During 2016 we aim to further investigate the southeast part of the site looking at;

  • What remains of the buildings on the site & how much they have disturbed earlier deposits?
  • Was there a specific landscaping event at this side of the site which levelled off the natural slope of Hungate?
  • Is there the same wealth of medieval archaeology that was seen just to the north in the 2006 dig?
  • Finally…. Can we prove that the burials across the site are actually Viking in date?
Setting up to plan a newly exposed structural sequence.

Setting up to plan a newly exposed structural sequence.

In 2006 we started work knowing there was good archaeology on the site, we just didn’t know just how much and how close to the surface this was. During the setup week it was immediately apparent that we were in for a great summer!

Planning an intact hearth.

Planning an intact hearth.

All through the summer the site was producing Roman finds. As those of you who have dug with us already know, this is very normal for the complex urban archaeology that we excavate during the Archaeology Live! training excavations.

Cleaning up cobbled surfaces

Cleaning up cobbled surfaces

The earliest features we found were most probably Viking in date with traces of timbers in clear lines, linear cut features as well as burials. This may indicate Viking buildings or plots may be present on the site as well as suggesting that there was an earlier timber church that stood where St Saviour’s presently stands. This would be an amazing discovery!

In the medieval period things became very busy with a substantial road and a number of walls, most probably from buildings. We also had a lot of finds, including quite a collection of worked bone fragments. This may relate to specific craft activities across the separate plots which would have extended across the site.


Into the post medieval period the buildings were extended and covered a good portion of the site. A so much medieval material was re-used in this process it may be that there is an even more complicated picture than what we already thought.

A fragment of a Viking composite comb.

A fragment of a Viking composite comb.

So, plenty to look at in a short period of time and lots of tantalising questions to answer! Medieval buildings and roads, historic crafts, Viking burials and, potentially, a new chapter to the history of one of York’s famous churches. It’s all to play for.

Depending on what we find this year, we may be able to look further into the site over a longer period of time. This could be the start of something big!

To join the St. Saviour’s excavation, email trainingdig@yorkat.co.uk