YAT Archaeological Digs

A peek into four of our excavations that you’ll experience at DIG.

YAT Archaeological Digs

York Archaeological Trust was founded in 1972, during the famous Coppergate excavation. Since then, we have grown as a self-funded educational charity to include cutting-edge archaeological services and world-class attractions. Have a look at some of our most exciting excavations – and what you may find when you visit DIG! Today, York Archaeology is the commercial archaeology unit of York Archaeological Trust. With offices in York, Nottingham, and Sheffield, our archaeologists work on a lot of different projects across the country.

4 Main Sites

In the 50 years since YAT was founded, we’ve taken part in scores of excavations throughout York and the surrounding area. Here’s a peek into four of our excavations that you’ll experience at DIG.

Victorian Hungate

Our largest excavation to date, the Hungate excavation took place just across Stonebow from where DIG is. For over 5 years,, we dug through 2,000 years of people living in that particular spot. Most importantly, we were able to uncover the lower class tenement housing that used to sit here. From one-up-one-down tenement houses to cobblestone streets to even a communal tipper toilet, we were able to understand what it was like to live here during Victorian times.

Our Victorian dig site recreates one of the one-up-one-down tenement areas that we excavated. You’ll find the house, an alleyway, and one of the communal toilets that we discovered!

Medieval Fishergate

Located just outside of the city walls, our Fishergate excavation uncovered the site of St Andrew’s Priory, a Gilbertine priory that existed during the 13th and 14th centuries. We found artefacts from the priory church, like stained glass pieces and book clasps, but we also found part of the cemetery! Though we expected to find plenty of skeletons of the priors who lived there, we also found skeletons of women and children, which means that the cemetery was used by the surrounding community, not just the men who lived at the priory.

Our Medieval dig site represents an area near the entrance to the church, where we found a skeleton right outside the door. Will you be able to find it too?

Viking Coppergate

The famous Coppergate excavation took place where today’s Coppergate Centre is located. If you’ve visited the JORVIK Viking Centre, you’ve walked at the same level that the Vikings did! The excavation took place in the 1970s and 1980s, and found thousands of well-preserved Viking artefacts, everything from socks and game pieces to frying pans and sewing needles. All these finds completely changed our view of how Vikings lived and worked in Britain.

Our Viking dig site is the back garden of a blacksmith’s house. Find leftovers from dinner, metalworking waste, and even some replicas of artefacts on display at JORVIK Viking Centre, all in our dig site!

Roman Blake Street

York used to be home to a huge Roman fortress, near where the Minster stands now. In the 1980s, we excavated a site at Blake Street that used to be part of the barracks, where the soldiers ate and slept. We found lots of things that the soldiers used, from lamps and pottery to animal bones and even a hidden stash of coins! The excavation helped us to understand how Roman buildings were used throughout their lifetime, even after the soldiers moved out.

Our Roman site is an area of the inside of one of these barrack buildings. See bits of their food, their tools, even some of their weapons – but can you find the hidden hoard of coins?