EYO94 - Starting Gate, Tadcaster Road




Location Starting Gate, Tadcaster Road
Grid reference Centred SE 5868 4965 (25m by 28m)
Map sheet SE54NE
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire



York Archaeological Trust





Between 1st-5th July 1996 York Archaeological Trust carried out an archaeological evaluation on the site of a proposed extension to the Starting Gate restaurant, Tadcaster Road, Dringhouses (SE 58694966). The site was on the presumed line of the main Roman road into York from the south-west, via Tadcaster (Margery road 28c). The presence of a Roman cemetery at St. Helen's Road, some 65m to the north, suggests that the Roman road lay immediately to the west of the existing Tadcaster Road at this point. The evaluation was undertaken on behalf of Whitbread plc, and followed a specification provided by the Principal Archaeologist at City of York Council. Three trenches were excavated. Two (Trenches 1 and 2) were situated in the car park of the Starting Gate restaurant. They were excavated down to archaeological deposits by machine, beyond which point limited excavation was undertaken by hand. The third (Trench 3) was situated in the garden of the Willow Bank Hotel, and was excavated entirely by hand. Associated pottery and ceramic building material indicate that the majority of archaeological features and deposits date to this period, and to the 1st and 2nd centuries AD in particular (see Fig. 2, interpretation of main Romano-British features). Road [3010] is considered to be part of Margery Road 10, the main Roman road into York from the south-west (believed to be aligned roughly north-south at this point), and linear cut [2008] is regarded as the ditch along the east side of the road. It is likely that a corresponding ditch ran along the west side of the road. Post-holes [2001] and [2003] immediately east of the roadside ditch probably formed the west end of a timber building gable end onto the road. Cobble surface [2005] is tentatively interpreted as a path aligned east-west, alongside the building. Evidence of Roman settlement was also found to the west of the presumed Roman road. Two pairs of post-holes are thought to represent the walls of two separate timber structures, aligned east-west, with their gable ends fronting the Roman road; whether they were contemporaneous, or represent two phases of building, is uncertain. A slag deposit, believed to have been the tap-slag from the base of an iron-smelting furnace, is situated on the alignment of one of the pairs of post-holes; this suggests that it was part of a separate phase of activity. Similarly, a pit situated on the alignment of the other pair of post-holes, indicates a different phase of activity. Finally, a gravel surface was cut by one of the pairs of post-holes, indicating that it was a surface which preceded at least one of the timber buildings. Overall, the evidence points to between two and five phases of early Roman activity on the site. The presence of Roman fineware pottery and a range of ceramic building material suggests a high status settlement with substantial buildings, perhaps incorporating one or more hypocausts (central heating systems). This is unlikely to have been a villa (the rural residence of a landowner), as they usually develop later in the Roman period, and tend to be situated away from major roads. A possible explanation is that this settlement was a mansio (a government residence which accommodated travelling officials), but the proximity of the settlement to such a major public and military centre as York does not support this. A more likely explanation is that the settlement was a civilian community that developed during the later 1st century AD away from the legionary fortress at York, so that it retained its independence from the military - unlike the canabae, settlements which grew up alongside legionary fortresses primarily to supply the military market. Such communities have been identified near many legionary fortresses on the continent (where they are known as zivilen Dorf settlements) and in Britain. Domestic, industrial and farming activity took place within them. However, they were invariably stifled by the more successful canabae as the legions became established in their permanent garrisons (such as York) during the 2nd century. These characteristics of zivilen Dorf settlements accord well with the evidence from the evaluatory excavations at The Starting Gate. Evidence of Roman activity has been found to the north and south of this site, most recently at 52-60 Tadcaster Road, where there was evidence for early Roman activity extending some 100m west of the main Roman road. The Roman cemetery at St. Helen's Road could have served this settlement. 6.2.3 Anglian and Anglo-Scandinavian (5th-11th centuries). There was no evidence of activity of this date on the site. 6.2.4 Medieval (11th-16th centuries). The presence of 11th/12th century Gritty Ware pottery suggests that there was a settlement of this date in the vicinity of the site. Similarly, later medieval pottery and tile also points to occupation of this date nearby. One or two sherds of medieval pottery and tile were recovered from contexts which are thought to be Romano-British in date, but this is believed to be the result of more recent disturbance of the Romano-British deposits. Most of the medieval pottery and tile was found in the soil/ploughsoil overlying the Roman deposits, and probably represents agricultural activity adjacent to the medieval village of Dringhouses.

Sources/Archives (2)

  • --- Unpublished document: YAT. 1996. Starting Gate Tadcaster Road.
  • --- Unassigned: NMR. NMR data.

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Parent/preceding Site Events/Activities (1)

  • Starting Gate Tadcaster Road (Ref: YORYM:2003.303)

Record last edited

Feb 28 2020 3:31PM


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