Since 1989 Huntington Stadium has played home to countless sporting events. The old ground has seen the triumphs and tribulations of York City Knights RFC and the many achievements of the City of York Athletic Club. The story of the site however, goes back far further…
Throughout every night of floodlit drama, a secret has been hidden beneath the turf, a secret dating back to York’s very beginnings. This year, York Archaeological Trust aim to find out exactly what was happening here almost two millennia ago – and we want your help!
York was a very important place in the Roman period. Around AD71 it was founded by the Legio IX Hispana (9th Spanish Legion) and effectively formed the north-western frontier of the Roman Empire. By the second century, the ever expanding city of Eboracum acted as the staging point for Roman forays into the north. Away from the grand palaces and intimidating fortifications of the city, the area north of the city was peppered by the temporary forts and encampments of the now incumbent Legio VI Victrix (6th Victorious Legion). Examples have been investigated at Cawthorn, Bootham Stray and most recently, Huntington.
The fortification known as Huntington Camp 2, to the south east of Hungtinton Stadium, was excavated by YAT in 2003, yielding some fascinating results (see our earlier posts for further info). It is becoming increasingly apparent that these sites have many similarities, but just as many differences. We are revealing a landscape of military training grounds, short-term encampments during large musters and the temporary forts of armies marching north.
Crop marks and geophysical survey have revealed another camp (Camp 1) beneath Huntington Stadium. Our excavation aims to find out when the fort was built, how long it was occupied for and how it was used. We will also delve even further into the past, to see if the site was occupied prior to the Roman invasion.
Working with City of York Council, we want to invite members of the public to help us solve these ancient mysteries.
Between April 13th and May 22nd 2015 (Monday-Friday), we will be carrying out a six week community excavation, getting beneath the turf of the old stadium to locate the defences of Camp 1. Members of the public will have the opportunity to work alongside a team of professional archaeologists and to carry out the excavation and recording of the fort. At the end of each week, there will be site tours and the chance to take part in specialist sessions on subjects such as York’s Roman past, stratigraphic analysis and a guide to pottery dating and identification in the field.
Numbers will be limited, so get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place on the team. Please let us know which dates you would like to be on-site. Spaces will operate on a first come, first served basis – we will do our best to accommodate everyone. Local people will be given priority, although we will also accept some people from further afield.
People of all ages (16+, 14 if accompanied by a parent/guardian) are welcome and no experience is necessary – YAT archaeologists will be on hand at all times to offer guidance and support.
Personal protective equipment (PPE – Hard hats, high-visibulity vests, etc.) will be provided. A small number of safety boots will be available, although we recommend that you bring your own if possible. Steel toe-capped boots can be bought for around £20 from outlets such as Shoe Zone and Sports Direct and are a must for any budding archaeologists.
At York Archaeological Trust, we firmly believe that the thrills and excitement of archaeology shouldn’t be kept behind closed doors. Projects like Dig York Stadium and our Archaeology Live! training excavations (www.archaeologylive.org) aim to get as many people as possible on-site and in the trench. This is an opportunity for you to add your own pieces to the endless puzzle that is York’s past!
We’ll see you on site!
– The Dig York Stadium team