EYO4654 - Heslington East Area A3 (Fields 8 and 9)




Location Heslington East Area A3
Grid reference Centred SE 6428 5107 (485m by 270m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Civil Parish Heslington, City of York, North Yorkshire
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire



University of York


Not recorded.



This report is primarily concerned with the chronological development of the archaeological site at Heslington East in Fields 8 and 9 (SE 640506), as determined by survey and excavation work by the Department of Archaeology, University of York from 2008 – 2011. Excavation targets were identified by fieldwalking, geophysics and test pit excavation undertaken at Easter during 2008, 2009 and 2010. The majority of the full excavation work was then undertaken by undergraduate students supervised by experienced excavators during the annual Departmental training excavation during April and May, and then by a smaller community excavation team, in any given year. At the end of 2011 the outstanding work was concluded by a small team of commercial archaeologists from OnSite Archaeology working under the direction of the Department of Archaeology. There is variation in the character, tempo and chronology of activity between these two zones. The earliest activity occurred in Field 8, taking the form of dispersed Bronze Age features. The site then saw settlement from the Iron Age into the early Roman period, including a series of roundhouses with associated hearths and metalworking areas in Field 9, and an ephemeral enclosure and early track in Field 8. In the third and fourth century AD there was substantial reorganisation of Field 8, with a preference for the more northern part of the site. This saw the creation of more substantial enclosures, the laying out of a metalled track way and erection of two buildings, one of which was masonry and had a hypocaust system. Significant boundary ditches were installed at this time and, towards the east of the masonry building, access into the area controlled through a gateway/entrance. There was also monumentalisation of the western entrance into the complex by the insertion of a rectangular tower, later substantially rebuilt, which articulated with two burials immediately to its east. In the very late Roman period, and potentially into the sub-Roman period, the landscape in the north of Field 8 was modified, with burials consolidating earlier features. New boundaries and terraces were established and we see the insertion of a kiln, a large rectangular timber-framed building and a four metre deep masonry-lined well. The ancient construction technique known as opus quadratum was recognised in some of the dressed stone recovered from the site. This technique is rare in Britain, usually being found only in bridges in the military zone and in certain kinds of classical temple and mausoleum construction, or in public monuments in Roman London. Analysis of millstones and the animal bone assemblage suggests that settlement in the later Roman period was focussed on arable production, the discovery of the millstone group being of significance for York and its extra-mural area in this period. The analysis of metal residues suggests there was smithing and welding activity talking place on the site. Across the site a range of human burial rites were represented by two prehistoric cremations, plus five adult inhumations and five perinatal inhumations of Roman date. Two of the Roman inhumations had significant pathology, including the most northerly recorded case of Roman spinal TB in the UK in one, and possible brucellosis lesions in the other. The two burials beside the tower had nails associated with each cranium and appear to have comparators only within a Mediterranean context.

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Unpublished document: 2012. Heslington East Area A3 Field 8-9 Vol.1&2.

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

  • Heslington East- Bronze Age Cremation (Monument)
  • Heslington East Iron Age (Monument)
  • Heslington East: Roman site (Monument)

Parent/preceding Site Events/Activities (2)

  • York University Campus 3 Trenches 1-9
  • Heslington East PARENT RECORD (publication)

Record last edited

Jul 16 2020 2:29PM


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