Walmgate Excavations - Public Consultation

An exciting opportunity for the Walmgate community to investigate the area’s fascinating past.

York Archaeology has been carrying out archaeological investigations in the grounds of the former Willow House care home since 2021, finding evidence of human activity dating back into prehistory. In this time, the site has been home to the national award winning Archaeology on Prescription social prescribing project  and the York Archaeology training excavation, which attracts trainees from across the world.

In 2024, a brand new investigation has been proposed outside the Willow House complex, focusing on ‘School Green’, a small green space at the east end of Long Close Lane, and ‘Willow Green’, the larger garden area inside Walmgate Bar. 

Both locations are open public amenity spaces, so this consultation aims to inform the community about the proposals and ensure that residents support the project.

York Archaeology would like to invite the residents of Walmgate to help us to create a brand new research project that uses archaeology as a way to explore the different ways this space was used in the past, and how the community of today may like to see it used in the future.  

Proposal information

School Green 

  • Roughly 8m x 8m area allows for a large trench.
  • The trench will host Archaeology on Prescription and the training excavation. 
  • Residents will receive behind the scenes tours and voluntary opportunities such as finds processing. 
  • Area will be fully fenced off while the trench is open, but will remain visible to the public.
  • Any parts of the fencing that overlook windows of neighbouring properties will be screened off to ensure privacy.
  • No machinery will be used during the excavation. 
  • Working hours will be 9am – 5pm.

Willow Green

  • Trench no larger than 2m x 2m.
  • For safety, a 3m x 3m area of the public green will be fenced off. The rest will remain open as normal.
  • This trench will be dedicated to local residents. All excavation and recording will be carried out by York Archaeology staff and volunteers from the community. 
  • No machinery will be used during the excavation. 
  • Working hours will be 9am – 5pm.

Trenches will be backfilled and re-turfed in autumn 2024. 

Activities available to volunteers may include:

  • Archaeological excavation and recording
  • Digital survey
  • Historic research
  • Creative responses (i.e. art, creative writing, photography, dance, music, theatre, poetry, exhibitions)
  • Discussions on future uses of the site, i.e.gardening/habitat creation

The proposed investigation has been designed purely for research purposes, trenches will be small in scale to minimise disruption and all excavations will be backfilled and re-turfed upon completion. The project aims to offer all participants the chance to learn new skills while exploring the complex urban narratives of this historic part of York. 

The School Green trench aims to find the remains of Hope Street British School. Built in 1827, the school remained in use until 1890, however, research has suggested that the school may have been built over the long-lost medieval church of St. Peter-in-the-Willows. The Willow Green trench will investigate a range of 19th century buildings that were cleared in the mid-20th century. These buildings could tell us a huge amount about life in Victorian Walmgate, but it is also possible that evidence of much earlier activity survives beneath them. 

The broader aim of the programme is to make sensitive use of the site’s archaeological resource to bring local residents together to explore the lives of previous generations. It is hoped that the hidden histories and forgotten stories that are uncovered will inspire a stronger connection with the space and conversations about how it could be improved or used differently. 

We would love to hear from local residents and community groups so please contact us if you have any ideas or comments.

Email: [email protected]

Post: York Archaeology Community Engagement Team, St. Saviours Church, St. Saviourgate, York, YO1 8NN