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Medieval church unearthed at King's Square

Archaeologists who may have found the remains of a medieval church in York city centre will carry out further investigations next week to determine whether more detailed excavations are necessary.

Medieval church unearthed at King's Square
Archaeologists at work in King’s Square, where it is hoped they have found part of Holy Trinity Church, which stood on the site in the 13th century [Credit: York Press]
The King’s Square discovery was unearthed by City of York Council’s archaeological team following a dig which started last week as part of Reinvigorate York.

They believe the remains could be part of Holy Trinity church, first mentioned in 1268, but as it was demolished in 1861 and replaced by a Victorian church, it is difficult to tell which building the bricks belong to. 

Archaeologists say the walls are in good condition and they believe the Victorian church was built on the foundations of the medieval building.

Medieval church unearthed at King's Square
An archaeologist at work in King’s Square [Credit: York Press]
There have been concerns about the effect of the dig on retailers, but Coun Sonja Crisp said there was “no indication” of any added delays as a result of the findings. Time used up while carrying out the archaeologists’ dig will be added to the second phase of the works in March, avoiding the need for the current work to extend into the crucial Christmas period for retailers.

The Diocese of York requires the council to carry out an Archaeological Watching Brief and investigations will start next week to determine whether there is a need for more detailed excavations.

Marie Howell, owner of Harlequin’s cafe which overlooks the square, said: “It’s very exciting. We didn’t know what it was going to be like or what was going to happen. It’s fantastic to be able to look out on to the church and we’ve got the best seat in the house for it.”

Medieval church unearthed at King's Square
A bird’s eye view of King’s Square [Credit: York Press]
John Oxley, the council’s archaeologist, said: “Over the next couple of weeks the archaeologists will clean and record the remains of the church and remove any burials that might be affected by the resurfacing works This is very exciting as opportunities, however brief, to look at these vanished churches in York are very rare.”

Coun Dave Merrett said: “It’s rare that opportunities like this come around – so it’s important we’re able to carry out this important archaeological dig and capture more of York’s history. We also understand just how important the build up to Christmas is for retailers and businesses, so we will complete as much as we can of this first phase ahead of St Nicholas Fayre, so the square can remain open for this important event.” 

Source: The York Press [September 14, 2013]

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