Setting the Scene: Archive Research Sessions

Community Stadium logo_ArranHow has the area to the south of Huntington developed over time? What archaeological work has already taken place there? What do we know about the history of sport and supporters’ clubs in York? These are some of the many questions that a bright and eager group of York residents, students, professionals, and local history and archaeology enthusiasts set out to investigate in the Introduction to Research sessions organised by York Archaeological Trust as part of the Community Stadium project in March 2015.

Held in association with York Explore Library and Archives, City of York Council, and JORVIK DIG, the aim of the research sessions were to provide workshop-based training in archive study, online historical resources, and the Historic Environment Record for York. By looking at the broader history of Huntington and the wider context of sport in York, we also sought to expand our current knowledge and understanding beyond the area of excavation, and to enthuse and encourage the public to get involved in the project through documentary and archaeological research. The sessions were fully booked up and attended by 30 people over three days.

The archive sessions were held at the newly-refurbished York Explore Library and Archives and provided the opportunity for participants to explore historic maps and plans, written records dating to the 19th century, and photographs which detailed the history of sport in York.

The research team hard at work in the York Explore archives.

The research team hard at work in the York Explore archives.

Training was also given on how to use the local newspaper archive held on microfilm and online through The British Newspaper Archive.

Computer research at York Explore.

Computer research at York Explore.

York Archaeological Trust’s newly-created archaeology library at JORVIK DIG presented the ideal venue for the investigation of the historic environment in and around Huntington Stadium.

Researching the site's archaeological background at Dig.

Researching the site’s archaeological background at Dig.

Training was provided in how the Historic Environment Record database for York (a system recording information about monuments, historic landscapes and buildings) can be searched and interrogated for known archaeological activity in and  around the site of the new Community Stadium.

Previous YAT site reports provided some valuable background information.

Previous YAT site reports provided some valuable background information.

A number of themes and avenues for further examination emerged during the research sessions. In studying the historic maps and identifying landscape features and buildings, it became clear that the new Community Stadium is located in an area known historically as Huntington South Moor, which was characterised by open fields and scattered farms.


Part of the 1852 OS map showing the Huntington Stadium site.

The current field pattern probably dates to 18th- or early 19th-century enclosure, though ridge and furrow dating to the medieval and post-medieval periods suggests long-term ploughing in the area. A number of lanes providing access through the landscape: New Lane, Jockey Lane, Brecks Lane and Butters Lane.  The 1852 map indicated that New Lane was formerly known as South Lane – an discovery which has important implications for any future historical research into the area. Huntington Grange, a listed building dating to the 18th century, is one of few surviving historic farms in the area.

In comparing the historic maps with aerial photographs taken in the 1930s, 1950s and 1980s, it became clear that the character of the area to the south of Huntington has changed significantly in the last 30 years. A high number of archaeological investigations have recently taken place ahead of new residential, commercial and industrial developments. Jockey Lane was extended in the 1980s to link New Lane and Malton Road, and to facilitate the busy out-of-town commercial area of Monks Cross.

Aerial view of YAT's 2003 excavation of the neighbouring Roman camp.

Aerial view of YAT’s 2003 excavation of the neighbouring Roman camp. Jockey Lane runs along the left side of the image.

The aerial photographs also showed the surviving Roman archaeology of Camp 1, and its relationship with the present field boundaries. A number of questions were raised about the Roman road network and possible routes between the fortress and the two camps identified in Huntington. Groves Lane, the suggested line of a road from the supposed north-east gate of the Roman Legionary fortress (Porta Decumana) has survived as a modern street and runs in a north-easterly direction, seemly towards the two camps.

The newspaper articles shed some light on the history of sport in York, along with a box of records in York Explore Archives relating to York City Knights and the Huntington Stadium.  The Huntington Stadium (formerly known as the Ryedale Stadium) was built in 1989. The York City Knights had previously occupied a stadium in Clarence Street in central York. Among the records were a series of photographs taken in the 1980s which documented the construction of the new stadium and showed one of the last games played at the former ground in Clarence Street . These relatively recent images captured an important moment in the club’s history, as well as showing how the location of sporting grounds in York has changed over time.

In addition to the historical and archaeological records , further information about the development of the Huntington area was identified by members of the group who had either lived there for several years, or knew the area well. Personal recollections shed light on former buildings such as the brewery on New Lane, which was built in the early 20th century and demolished to make way for the new housing development. Brewery Cottages on New Lane were purportedly built to house the employees of the brewery and now represent the final vestiges of this industry.

The archive and research sessions have highlighted the power of group research. This was shown in the sheer amount of information that was unearthed in a small timeframe, but also in the volume and sophistication of questions asked of the evidence, and the unique insights brought by a group with a broad knowledge-base and wide-ranging backgrounds.  Everyone who took part in the research sessions brought a fresh pair of eyes to the historical and archaeological evidence, which will in turn prove invaluable in assisting with the analysis and interpretation of the archaeology uncovered in excavation.

We’d be interested to hear from anyone with information about the development of Huntington South Moor, the history of sport in York, or with any memories or recollections of the area. Please get in touch:

Jayne Rimmer

Further information:

York Historic Environment Record (HER):

York Explore Library and Archives:



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