YORK school pupils were invited to an archaeological dig taking place right on their doorstep.

Youngsters from Fishergate Primary School were invited to the excavation of the former Mecca Bingo site on Thursday, October 26.

As previously reported by The Press, the site is being excavated ahead of the construction of 275 bed student accommodation, which is set to be open by September 2024.

Teacher at Fishergate Primary, Di Ekers, said: “It’s history right on our doorstep, we were so keen to bring a group of children over.”

She added: "We’ve been seeing all this building work going on and we wondered what was under the ground.”


Di described the group of Year 4 children as “so excited” to be invited to the dig, with some of them learning about archaeology itself for the first time.

Speaking of the experience's value for the children’s education, Di said: “We learn about medieval Britain and Anglo Saxons and that’s everything that’s here.”

York Press: Fishergate Primary School pupils attending the excavation

The site is being excavated by York Archaeology, with finds dating back to the Anglian period. This period refers to the time between the departure of the Romans and the arrival of the Vikings in the city.

Project officer, Lucy Johnson, discussed the relevance of the site and said: "It's the outskirts of the medieval priory complex. The original Gilbertine Priory of St Andrew was found along with the 20th century Rialto Cinema.

Regional manager for York Archaeology, Paul Flintoft, said: “We have identified significant early medieval remains, as well as features of interest that we believe relate to the Anglian wic (trading post).”

He added: “We have identified a well that's about 1,500 years old and contains preserved waterlogged remains and large rubbish pits that contain pottery.”

York Press: Fishergate Primary pupils attending the excavation

During the day, items found on the site were displayed to the children. Despite interruptions from Storm Babet making the muddied ground too solid to dig, the archaeologists have managed to find old pottery, cow skeletons and tools constructed out of bone.

The site remains under excavation by the archaeologists until November 24, before construction gets underway.

York Archaeology is opening the site to the public during half term, however both days available are unfortunately fully booked.