CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGY 104
Anglian York - The Missing Link by Richard Kemp The missing link in York's Anglo- Saxon archaeology has at last been found by the York Archaeological Trust in excavations just completed on the site of the Redfearn National Glass Factory at Fishergate. There has always been a great contradiction between the historical and the archaeological evidence for Eoforwic, the Anglian precursor to Jorvik. Historical evidence, - for instance Alcuin's great poem on the church and Saints of York - suggests a boom
ing trading settlement, full of foreign traders and merchants. Yet despite 15 years of city centre excavation, no substantial traces of this period had ever been found. This led some to question the historical evidence, notably Richard Hodges who stated in 1984 that 'At some stage we have to accept the power of this kind of negative (archaeological) evidence'.
Now Alcuin and other 8th century sources are vindicated. Two km downstream from the area of the
Roman, Medieval and modern centre of York, near the confluence of the Rivers Foss and Ouse on a terrace of brickearth unencumbered by Roman remains, we have at last found the missing archaeological evidence, locked beneath a sprawling modern glass factory and a medieval Gilbertine priory. Work began on the site in February 1985 when the factory was abandoned but still standing. Trial transects were cut through the factory floors in order to locate the Gilbertine house, known to be somewhere within the 5-acre site. Within just 11 working days, well preserved remains of the priory Church were located and within 2 months an outline plan of the whole priory had been recovered. Trial work showed the remains to be very well preserved but, more exciting, beneath the priory gardens numerous large rubbish pits of the 8th century were found, along with structural traces which, though difficult to interpret in the narrow trial transects, seemed to suggest extensive settlement.
These discoveries set the wheels of the Trust's grant and resource gathering machinery into action, and in due course HBMC and York City Council agreed to provide matched amounts towards further work.
The site was threatened with housing redevelopment, and once the new owners had been established, access for open area excavation was negotiated under the Areas of Archaeological Importance provision of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act. The developers Costain Homes (North Eastern) Ltd generously designed their demolition and building schedule around the excavation and