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Timbers from a Viking home found in Hungate dig
Gary Millward works on timbers forming part of the cellar of a Viking house found on the Hungate development.
THE remains of a Viking home have been discovered in York by archaeologists.
York Archaeological Trust archaeologists have exposed what they believe to be a timber-lined cellar of a two-storey house, during excavations at the site of the new Hungate development, which is being built near Stonebow.
The archaeologists say the home, which was uncovered about three metres below street level, would have been built in the mid to late tenth century. It appears that ships’ timbers used in the building’s construction – the first discovery of its kind in York.
Hungate excavations project director Peter Connelly said: “To find these timbers so well preserved is very exciting. Viking cellars were used in different ways by different people, much in the same way as cellars are used today. Craftspeople appear to have worked out of their cellars as well as using them for storage, with the living quarters on the floor above.”
The trust is carrying out the excavations in York over a five-year period on behalf of Hungate (York) Regeneration Ltd, a joint venture between Crosby Lend Lease, Evans Property Group and Land Securities, which are creating the new Hungate neighbourhood. The scheme will provide more than 700 new homes within York’s city walls, and will include offices, cafes, restaurants, neighbourhood shops, and community space.
The archaeologists started work on the main part of the site in spring last year and have revealed a wide range of archaeology, spanning back in time more than 1,000 years. Their finds include traces of Viking age life such as bone ice skates, fragments of combs and a rare small glass bead. York Archaeological Trust chief executive John Walker said there was a “very tight window of opportunity” for people to go and look at the remains of the building because the timbers would be removed from the site by the end of the month. “The priority now is to safely remove the timbers from the ground for conservation and further analysis by our wood technology expert,” he said. “The discovery of what appears to be part of a ship’s hull in this house construction will require further study in our labs. The timbers are positioned just below the water table, which is why they have been so well-preserved.”