The earliest discovery appears to date from the Iron Age, roughly 2,500 years ago. This discovery is a large ring ditch which could have been a possible enclosure or roundhouse. It measures approximately 16 meteres making it one of the biggest to be unearthed in York. Unfortunately, none of the postholes have survived over the thousands of years but pits and what looks to be a hearth have been found.
A nearby ditch has also produced a series of finds, including decorated pottery fragments, a fragment of quern-stone and industrial waste material in the form of molten slag. Fragments of possible pumice-stone, a volcanic rock not found locally, have also been discovered. These could point to connections with the wider prehistoric world at that time.
The finds were made during work to improve theWetherby Road roundabout. This is the first of seven roundabouts on the A1237 set for improvements over the next four years. The upgrades will mean more lanes and space on the approaches and exits, as well as improvements for pedestrians and cyclists.
Ian Milsted, Head of Archaeology for York Archaeological Trust, said ‘We’re excited to have recovered this important information and will now analyse the finds to understand the story of the people who lived here before the Romans founded the city. We’re also very pleased to have successfully recovered the archaeology without disrupting the roadworks, which we will continue to monitor’.
Finds have also been made to the north of the enclosure with a series of other ditches that may indicate field boundaries associated with the settlement.
There is evidence of similar activity from later periods as well, with medieval ditches cutting through the exisiting ones, showing how the agricultural landscape has changed over the centuries. These important discovery adds to the growing body of evidence for late prehistoric settlement around York.
York Archaelogical Trust have present on site from the start of the works after we requested their help to identify and preserve any possible sites of historical interest.
The York Outer Ring Road improvements programme is being funded through the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund, and the Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of Government investment through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.
For more information about the York Outer Ring Road improvements visit www.york.gov.uk/yorr