RESEARCHERS from York Archaeological Trust have identified a remarkable artefact which shows that in 1300, York was at the forefront of science and engineering.
The object, a small circular copper-alloy disc, was discovered during excavations on the site of the former York College For Girls in Low Petergate.
It has been cleaned to reveal an abbreviated Latin inscription around its edge - SIGNUM ROBERTI HOROLOGIARII - which translates as "The seal of Robert the clockmaker".
What makes the discovery exceptional is the fact that early historical records indicate that the first clocks prevailed at a number of major English churches only a few years before the seal was made, with York previously notable for its absence from this list - until now.
Experts say it is likely that Robert the clockmaker was engaged on works in York in 1300 with the most likely venue for his skills being York Minster, although the first references to a clock there do not appear in the surviving documents until much later.
Dr Richard Hall, director of Archaeology at York Archaeological Trust, said: "This is one of the most interesting single objects that we have found for some time. We are still trying to find out more about it - for example, we haven't yet managed to read the last part of the inscription, which should tell us where Robert came from. It opens up a new insight into the sounds and wonders of medieval York."
More information on the excavations can be found on York Archaeological Trust's website at www.yorkarchaeology.co.uk