The York Archaeological Trust has been conducting archaeological investigations for 40 years. These are a few of the latest discoveries.
Digging for secrets beneath York’s corridors of power
For six weeks in the summer of 2012, York Archaeological Trust began the first-ever archaeological dig in the Guildhall yard, the basements of the Mansion House, Common Hall Lane and the south side of the Guildhall.
The hope is that finds will eventually be displayed in the Mansion House. Visitors will also be able to see the recent vertical survey and imaging of the Guildhall which was carried out by the Trust.
The first Guildhall in York is mentioned in 1256 in a charter given to citizens by King Henry III. From 1378 onwards, there are historical references to a Guildhall standing on the present site.
The dig aimed to establish the dates of the basements of the Mansion House, land levels around the Guildhall and river frontages.
More information about what was found is coming soon…
Marks left by Stonehenge builders is revealed by Yorkshire archaeologists
One of the country’s most famous and most studied historic landmarks has undergone the first ever comprehensive digital examination of the surface of its stone, by Yorkshire archaeologists. Unparalleled detailed analysis of the first comprehensive laser survey of Stonehenge has been carried out by Sheffield-based ArcHeritage (part of the York Archaeological Trust educational charity). Archaeologists have developed a brand new technique and undertaken digital analysis for English Heritage at Stonehenge, revealing monumental evidence which changes previous interpretations of the stonework and the site.
Marcus Abbott, ArcHeritage’s Head of Geomatics and Visualisation, explains that, “the real stones have several texture and surface variations which camouflage subtle features that cannot be found by the naked eye. With digital technology we are able to strip off the texture and apply new surface texture which enhances the archaeological features. Combined with using different ‘virtual’ lighting set ups and angles we could then start to see surface detail on the stones. We created new technology called ‘Luminance Lensing’ and combined it with photogrammetric data which has taken our analysis to a completely different level.”
This study tells us many new things about Stonehenge and its creators. The method tells us how Stonehenge was positioned to create visual impact for people to walk towards the monument from the valley below, designed to be approached from the north east. It also provides an indication that the stones located in the centre of the monument might have existed before the outer ring of stones was created.
It has also importantly revealed 72 new prehistoric axe carvings, in addition to the 44 carvings already known at Stonehenge before this research. This find has doubled the number found on site and makes it the largest collection of these axe head prehistoric carvings found in the UK.
The new analysis also shows important evidence that Stonehenge was complete which is conflicting to existing theories. Abbot notes, “There has been much debate surrounding whether Stonehenge was left unfinished, however, this new evidence points to the contrary. With our new technology and the detail it shows we can see that parts have actually been chipped away and stolen. This micro examination allows us also to see fragments and breakages where pieces have been removed.”
The technique developed by ArcHeritage has major potential to impact on the survey techniques used in the heritage sector. At Stonehenge, the use of digital technology has uncovered more than is humanly possible and has greatly helped archaeologists further understanding of the ancient World heritage site.
The analysis carried out by ArcHeritage is part of a much wider research project by English Heritage which started in 2007. For more information about ArcHeritage’s involvement and new research technology, please visit www.archeritage.co.uk.