The arrow shows the approximate location of 46-54 Fishergate. Zoom out to see the site in relation to the rest of York.
A curving ditch ran from north to south across the site, narrow and shallow (approximately 0.4 m wide and 0.45 m deep) at the north end and becoming broader and deeper towards the south (approximately 2.1 m wide and 0.7 m deep). The bottom of the ditch contained a layer of silt deposited in standing or slow-moving water, and a notable absence of remains of insect species that normally live alongside human habitation, although conditions would have been expected to preserve them. This is interpreted as indicating that the ditch was dug, perhaps to mark a boundary, and then the site left uninhabited for a year or more, long enough for a diverse community of invertebrates to become established naturally.
To the west of the curving ditch and north of the line of pits, groups of post-bases (shallow post-holes, possibly the foundations for padstones) and foundation slots indicated traces of several possible structures.
Structure 1 was rectangular, 5.5m wide and between 14m and 19m long (the exact length is uncertain because one end of the structure was underneath an unexcavated baulk), oriented with the long axis roughly north-south. A shallow slot running part way across the structure east-west may be the foundation slot for a beam supporting an internal partition that would have separated off a smaller chamber at the northern end. No traces of any timbers remained (Kemp 1996 p 27-31).
Finds from the Fishergate site included ironsmithing slag, debris from copper- and lead-working, woodworking and leatherworking tools, and bones from beaver and pine marten consistent with preparation for furs (Kemp 1996 p 71).Food remains included animal bone (mainly cattle), fish bones, barley, wheat, rye, apples, sloes, hazelnuts, eggs and possibly peas (Kemp 1996 p 71). Sherds of Ipswich-ware pottery indicate contact with East Anglia, and fragments of stone were identified from Cumbria, Wensleydale, Swaledale and the Yorkshire Wolds (Kemp 1996 p 72-73). Lava querns for grinding grain into flour and pottery sherds imported from Germany and northern France/the Low Countries indicate contact across the North Sea (Kemp 1996 p 73).
The Fishergate excavation represents part of a larger settlement, but the size of the settlement is unknown (Kemp 1996 p 75). It was hypothesised that the settlement could extend along the east bank of the River Foss, perhaps covering 10-25 hectares, maybe as much as 65 hectares, which would be comparable with known eighth-century manufacturing and trading sites at Ipswich, London and Hamwic (near Southampton) (Kemp 1996 p 75-77; Tweddle et al 1999 p 193). However, recent excavations at Fishergate House and Blue Bridge Lane, just south of the 46-54 Fishergate site, suggest much lower density of occupation in this area, and the Fishergate settlement is now suggested to be much smaller than originally thought, perhaps 4 hectares or so (Spall and Toop 2005).
Kemp RL. Anglian settlement at 46-54 Fishergate. Council for British Archaeology/York Archaeological Trust, 1996. ISBN 1-872414-70-2.
Spall C, Toop N. Blue Bridge Lane and Fishergate House. Excavation Period 3: Anglian settlement. 2005. Available online
Spall C, Toop N. Before Eoforwic: new light on York in the 6th and 7th centuries. Medieval Archaeology 2008;52. Abstract available online
Tweddle D, Moulden J, Logan E. Anglian York: a survey of the evidence. Council for British Archaeology/York Archaeological Trust, 1999. ISBN 1-902771-06-0.