Digging up the past at King’s favourite friary

The dig will be adjacent to York's Guildhall. Picture by Simon Hulme

The dig will be adjacent to York's Guildhall. Picture by Simon Hulme

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IT was once home to what is reputed to be Richard III’s favourite York friary and now a major archaeological dig is due to get underway on the site.

The site, next to York’s Guildhall, offers a rare chance to excavate a large area in the centre of the city and archaeologists are hoping they will uncover significant remains relating to York’s Roman and medieval past.

The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral

The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral

Mitchell Pollington, of AOC Archaeology Group, said: “During the medieval period, the site was occupied by an important friary founded in 1272.

“In the late 15th century the future King Richard III famously stayed at the friary when visiting the city. Many local nobles killed during the Wars of the Roses are thought to have been buried on the site.

“The site is just upstream of the probable location of York’s Roman bridge that provided access to the Roman legionary fortress, which was centred on the site now occupied by York Minster, between AD71 and AD410.

“It is possible that the remains of Roman river front structures could survive, preserved in the waterlogged ground.”

Members of the public will work with archaeologists from AOC Archaeology Group to excavate the site which, almost uniquely in York, has remained largely undisturbed over the last 500 years. Work starts on August 16 and volunteers can sign up to join in at www.aocarchaeology.com/hiddenguildhall.

Coun Sonja Crisp, York Council’s member for leisure, culture and tourism, said the work offered “a unique opportunity” to discover more about the key historical area.

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