AMATEUR archaeologists can get their hands dirty and help uncover Richard III's favourite York friary as part of the city's summer community archaeology project.
AOC Archaeology Group are about to begin the Hidden Guildhall archaeology project - community archaeological investigations adjacent to the Guildhall in York on behalf of City of York Council.
This will provide a rare chance to excavate a large city centre site and archaeologists are hoping that they will uncover significant remains relating to York’s Roman and medieval past.
Members of the community will work together with professional archaeologists from AOC to excavate the site which, almost uniquely in York, has remained largely undisturbed over the last 500 years.
Mitchell Pollington of AOC said: “During the medieval period, the site was occupied by an important friary founded in 1272. In the late 15th century the future King Richard III famously stayed at the friary when visiting the city, and many local nobles killed during the Wars of the Roses are thought to have been buried on the site. It is hoped that the excavation will shed new light on the lives of the friars, the location of the friary buildings and possibly the identities of those who were buried here.
“The site is also located just upstream of the probable location of York’s Roman bridge that provided access to the Roman legionary fortress, which was centred on the site now occupied by York Minster, between AD 71 and AD 410. It is possible that the remains of Roman river front structures could survive, preserved in the waterlogged ground and sealed beneath the layers of later medieval occupation.”
Cllr Sonja Crisp, the council's cabinet member for culture, said: “This is providing us with a unique opportunity to gain a much better understanding of this key historical area of York. The archaeological dig could unearth any number important historic artefacts and provide us with a significant insight into York’s 2000 year-old history.”
As well as excavating the site, AOC will be using state of the art ground penetrating radar equipment to build up a digital plan of the remains beneath the adjacent Guildhall buildings. This will allow archaeologists to identify and record the archaeology in areas of existing buildings, without the need to excavate or disturb the remains in any way.
The excavations will start on August 16 , and volunteers can sign up to join the excavation at www.aocarchaeology.com/hiddenguildhall or visit the excavation site, talk to the archaeologists and get involved with a range of free activities, seven days a week until August 31.