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A Medieval Cellar and Medieval to Post-Medieval Pits, Post-holes and Walls at the YMCA, Nos 46-48 St Giles Street, Norwich

Underdown, Simon and Clarke, Rachel (2011) A Medieval Cellar and Medieval to Post-Medieval Pits, Post-holes and Walls at the YMCA, Nos 46-48 St Giles Street, Norwich. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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An archaeological evaluation was conducted in early August and from the 9th-22nd November 2010 by Oxford Archaeology East at the YMCA site to the rear of Nos 46-48 St Giles Street, Norwich (TG 2265 0855). This was undertaken concurrently with a watching brief on ongoing demolition works. The work relates to the construction of a new building for the YMCA on the site of the former YMCA accommodation block and sports hall to the north of Bethel Street at the rear of the hostel fronting onto St Giles.
Five trenches, including two that were part of the watching brief, were excavated, the first of which (Trench 1) was located within the accommodation block whilst the building was still standing. This was abandoned for health and safety reasons and the evaluation recommenced once demolition of all superstructures was complete.
The area beneath the former sports hall was severely truncated whilst localised areas of disturbance and truncation were present beneath the accommodation block as a result of the presence of several massive concrete ground beams. Despite this, a stratigraphic sequence, divided into four phases, was revealed that spans the ?12th to 18th centuries. A number of features and deposits were recorded that will significantly enhance current research into the post-Conquest development of the city, and will build on other recent work within the French Borough.
The discovery of an early cellar, indicated by a set of well-preserved masonry steps (Phase 1), is an uncommon find and provides important evidence for the 12th century urban expansion west of the market. Redevelopment of the site appears to have occurred in the medieval period (Phase 2, 13th-14th centuries), represented by levelling deposits and a robber cut in the north-eastern part of the site and quarrying/pit-digging close to the Bethel Street frontage. Phase 3 includes evidence for a 15th-century building represented by demolition material, including hand-made bricks and painted window glass, used to infill a well. This probably occurred in the 16th century, possibly following a fire given the presence of lumps of burnt wood and charcoal associated with the demolition material. This building may be contemporary with the undercroft beneath the frontage property and if so adds significantly to current understanding of the affluence of the occupants, who are likely to have been part of the merchant class. The post-medieval period (Phase 4) is represented by a number of wall foundations, pits, dumped deposits and extensive soil layers. This is consistent with cartographic evidence from the late 18th to late 19th centuries which indicates that much of the site was occupied by ranges/outhouses and a formal garden to the rear of the Nos 46-48 St Giles.
The artefactual remains from the site, although moderate in quantity, are on the whole fairly typical of a site of this date and type, being largely domestic in nature with some evidence of low-level industry in the form of ironworking in the vicinity. The small animal bone assemblage is dominated by the domestic mammals, along with bird and fish bones. Environmental samples, largely from medieval pit fills and a late medieval well, include charred remains of crops (including wheat, rye, oats and peas) and weed seeds.

Item Type: Client Report
Geographical Areas > English Counties > Norfolk
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology East
Depositing User: Chris Faine
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2013 10:09
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2013 12:40
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/1063

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