Monument record MYO2208 - Lamel Hill


Tumulus within the grounds of the Retreat. Lamel Hill overlies a Romano-British/ Anglian cemetery. It has been interpreted as a possible Anglo-Saxon tumulus. It was used as a gun battery/ observation platform during the seige of York in 1644.


Grid reference Centred SE 6144 5094 (36m by 35m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (7)

Full Description

NMR Information

Summary description
A natural rise on which a mound was built in 1644 for use as a gun platform for the siege of York, and subsequently converted to other uses. The mound was formerly the site of a cemetery, excavated in the 19th century, and thought to be Anglian. Further excavations in 1983 at Belle Vue House located 38 inhumations, most aligned East-West and thought to be Anglian. The mound was used as a Windmill mound until c.1840, and was evidently used as a garden prospect mound, presumably in the later 19th century. It now lies within the gardens of The Retreat.

Full description
[SE 6145 5095] Lamel Hill [TI] Tumulus [OE] (1)

Lamel Hill was a battery site during the siege of York in 1644 and in recent years served as a windmill steading until c.1840. The mound has a diameter E-W of C. 110 ft. and 125 ft. N-S with a height varying from C.14 1/2 ft. - 22 1/2 ft. Excavation by Thurnam revealed coins of Charles I, pieces of cast iron, and numerous disarticulated skeletons in the upper surface of the mound. Beneath true ground surface, were undisturbed burials in the centre of which, but on ground level, was a large urn. Thurnam concluded that the site was that of an Anglian cemetery on which a mound had been erected for siege
purposes in 1644 - Scheduled as an ancient monument. (2; 3)

Published survey (1:1250, 1962) revised (4) Lamel Hill now supports a summer house, ornamental trees, and terraced paths, and though its true contours are no longer discernible, the dimensions
given above are generally correct. Mr. H. Ramm (4a) has reviewed the evidence based on the excavation of Thurnam, and suggests that the mound is no earlier than mid. 16th c. He cites as one reason, the location of the urn that was found (which is now identified as 16th-17thc.) and suggests that the interpretation of Thurnam's sectional diagram bears out this assumption. The urn is displayed in the Friends' Retreat Hospital, and is of typical 16th-17th c. unglazed coarse ware.(4)

RCHME carried out a Level 1 field investigation of the monument in late March 1999 (5). It remains in basically the condition described by previous sources. According to the Victoria County History, the windmill was in decay by 1836; it was almost certainly demolished c.1839, when the mound was converted to serve as a prospect mound following its inclusion within the gardens of The Retreat (SE 65 SW 281). (5)

Published references to the Anglo-Saxon grave goods. (6; 7)

Lamel Hill was investigated again at Level 1 to examine the possible relationship between the mound and medieval broad ridge and furrow on the slope to the south (SE 65 SW 505), with a view to furthering the understanding of the mound's date of origin. Regrettably, due to landscaping within the grounds of The Retreat, the stratigraphic relationship is uncertain. However, on the slope outside the Retreat, the ridges do not exhibit a reverse-S pattern, hinting that the mound is indeed of post-medieval origin. (8)

1 Ordnance Survey Map OS 1:1250 1962
2 Proceedings of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society 98-105 1, 1855
4 Field Investigators Comments F1 ECW 11-JUN-63
5 Field Investigators Comments RCHME: Field observation on SE 65 SW 25
6 A gazetteer of early Anglo-Saxon burial sites Library has 2 copies 1964 by Audrey Meaney 293
7 The use of grave-goods in conversion-period England, c.600-c.850 1997 Helen Geake 190 261
8 Field Investigators Comments English Heritage: Urban Commons project: Walmgate Stray survey
4a Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments H. RAMM MA. FSA RCHM York.

Site of gun battery used to invest the east side of York, created on June 5th 1644.

An inventory of the historical monuments in the City of York. Volume II: the defences
2 copies. 1972 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, England 23

NMR, NMR data (Unassigned). SYO2214.

RCHME, 1972, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York, Volume II The Defences (Monograph). SYO63.

Sources/Archives (2)

  • --- Unassigned: NMR. NMR data.
  • --- Monograph: RCHME. 1972. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York, Volume II The Defences.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Mar 17 2020 4:34PM


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