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A large assemblage of ferrous and non-ferrous metalwork was recovered during excavation at Blue Bridge Lane and Fishergate House; at both sites Roman, Anglian, medieval and post-medieval material was present. The assemblage consisted of 1,364 items of iron, copper-alloy, lead-alloy, silver and some composite objects. Finds of secure Roman date were restricted to structural ironwork recovered from cremations. The small assemblage of Anglian objects included dress accessories, blades and structural metalwork. A more diverse range of artefacts were represented in the medieval assemblage including a large assemblage of structural ironwork, as well as dress accessories, keys and locks, horse-furniture and craft-working tools and waste.
A small assemblage of ironwork was recovered from two Period 2 cremations and consisted of a small number of nails and tacks recovered from the backfills of Cremation 3 and 5. In addition, four hobnails were recovered from period 2 ditch F283F (Find No 1388) with a further candidate from ditch F389B (Find no 3310).
A total of five dress pins were dateable to the Anglian period. A well-preserved copper-alloy dress pin with trapezoidal head decorated with three ring-and-dots (Find No 2225) is paralleled at many sites which have Anglian significance (see unprovenanced finds in Waterman 1959, 78). The pin belongs with a family of dress pins with polyhedral and disc-shaped heads, which are widely distributed, but have been found on several sites in northern Britain, specifically York sites - Pavement (Waterman 1959, 104), 46-54 Fishergate (Rogers 1993, 1365), 16-22 Coppergate (Mainman and Rogers 2000, 2578 Fig. 1274), Bishop Hill Senior, Aldwark and Jewbury (Tweddle et al 1999, 262). Several parallels can also be found throughout Yorkshire and beyond including Whitby (Dennison 2002), Flixborough (Whitwell 1991, 245), Cottam (Haldenby 1990, 55) and Hartlepool (Daniels 1988, 183) and further a field at Southampton (Hinton 1996, 31, Type Fb1ii).
|Find No 2225; Dress Pin|
Four iron pins with globular lead-alloy heads were recovered from secure Period 3 pits (Find nos 3262, 3469, 3472 and 4012) and can be added to the seven Period 3 pins of similar manufacture and composition from 46-54 Fishergate (Rogers 1993, 1367).
Find No 3262
Find No 3469
Find No 3472
Find No 4012
A single example of a copper-alloy hooked tag (Find No 2179) was recovered from a Period 7A posthole; while these objects have a long currency suggesting the piece could derive from a Period 3 to 5 context, Period 4 and 5 occupation was so scarce the object almost certainly derived from a Period 3 context. The object consists of a thin triangular-headed plate decorated with three ring-and-dots, which are echoed around the two circular perforations at the broad end. A similar hooked tag with punched ring-and-dot ornament, determined by XRF analysis to have been made of leaded brass, was recovered from Southampton (Hinton 1996, 10) with further examples from several York sites including 46-54 Fishergate (Rogers 1993, 1359), Wellington Row (Tweddle et al 1999, 265 and 290, after Waterman 1959, 77), Coppergate and Piccadilly (Mainman and Rogers 2000, 2576).
Find No 2179
Two simple iron buckles (Find No 3325 and 3254) were recovered from a Period 3 pit and consisted of a large sub-oval iron buckle and a smaller oval buckle with folded pin.
|Find No 3254||Find No 3325|
A pair of fragmentary copper alloy tweezers (Find No 2226) was recovered from a Period 3 pit. The object consists of a fragment of suspensory end, with remnant of suspensory loop, with notched decoration. The flaring terminals of the tweezers were recovered separately but conjoin (Find No 2227 and2228). The flared terminals are characteristic of many contemporary tweezers (cf Daniels 1988, 183; Rogers 1993, 1387; Hinton 1996, 45).
Tweezers, Find Nos 2226, 2227 and 2228
A possible ear scoop (Find No 2176) was recovered from Period 3 pit F381B and consists of a perforated broken copper-alloy strip with intact suspensory end and hoop, decorated with eight ring-and-dots. The end of the object is broken making determination of its function problematic. It seems possible that the object terminated with a simple scoop and is similar to an object from Southampton identified broadly as a toilet instrument (Hinton 1996, 45-6), although a pendant from the same site (ibid, 13) also appears quite similar. A second ear scoop (Find No 2129) was recovered from a Period 8 pit may be a residual find from Period 3. The object consists of a simple small scoop with plain handle and bears comparison to artefacts recovered from early Saxon cemeteries.
Find No 2176
Find No 2129
Ten whittle-tang iron blades were recovered from Period 3 features or residually from later deposits but were diagnostic Period 3 objects. Although, few and relatively fragmentary, some can be assigned to York blade back and cutting edge forms (Ottaway 1992, 558-559; Rogers 1993, 1275). One blade was of clear angle-backed form (Form A) and was complete measuring 104mm in total (blade and tang) (Find no 3276). Find nos 3245, 3261 and 3363 appeared to be Form C1 blades and consisted of a straight back curving down towards the tip. One blade was much longer than any other and appeared to represent a Back Form D and consisted of a convex back curving downwards from the tang, but with an equally curved cutting edge, the tip being below the line of the tang (Find no 3306). The remaining blades were not sufficiently complete to allow further comment (Find no 2883, 3217, 3229, 4993 and 4996).
Find No 3276
Find No 3306
A small assemblage of fishing equipment was recovered from Blue Bridge Lane, and although largely recovered residually from medieval contexts may derive from Period 3 features. Three small iron hooks were recovered from Period 3 pit F13B (Find nos 3300, 4043 and 4072) and may represent small fish hooks. A further example was recovered from an intercutting Period 6 pit F4B and almost certainly represents material eroded from F13B. In addition, a fifth example was recovered residually from a Period 8A landscaping soil.
|Find No 3300||Find No 4043||Find No 4072|
Two fragmentary iron keys (Find nos 3328 (illustrated at right) and 3342) were identified from Period 3 features as well as an iron barrel padlock end plate (Find No 3776). A small fragment of T-shaped iron slide key was identified from Period 3 pit F442B and is similar to an example from 46-54 Fishergate though less complete (Rogers 1423, Fig. 696) (Find No 3328). A possible iron key end loop was recovered from Period 3 pit F381B and consisted of a bow of looped iron and represents a hollow-stem key type (Find No 3342). Both types of key are known to date from the late 8th century onwards (Ottaway 1992, 669, 673). In addition, a fragment of iron barrel padlock was recovered from Period 3 pit F381B and consists of the pin end of a circular padlock with leaf springs and free arm partially present. The object was recovered from the upper fills of the feature which were contaminated with Period 4 pottery and the piece may be intrusive, alternatively it may represent the second fragment of barrel padlock from Anglian deposits at Fishergate (Rogers 1993, 1422) and therefore two unusual pre-Viking examples may be claimed from the site.
Other structural metalwork was not common, but where present consisted mainly of nails. These were mostly broken and undiagnostic or flat headed nails with squared shanks. In addition, headless nails, large dome headed nails, roves, a U-shaped staple and an iron ring were recovered.
Three objects were recovered from Period 4 features, all at Fishergate House. Two finger rings were recovered from rubbish pit F215F, which contained residual Period 3 material and their date is equivocal. A small iron blade tip fragment was recovered from a primary Period 4 hearth fill and is undiagnostic.
A small, simple, silver wound wire ring (Find No 378) was recovered from Period 4 rubbish pit F215F. The ring consists of a single silver drawn wire bent to form a simple ring and varies between 0.5 and 1mm thick. Presented here as a finger ring, since it is made of silver, its diameter (18mm) would not conflict with this identification, although such objects are known to have been associated with necklaces, and dress and belt fittings (Hinton 1996, 8-9; Rogers 1993, 1374). A similar example was recovered from a Period 3 deposit at 46-54 Fishergate (Rogers ibid.).
A simple iron ring (Find No 361) has also been included here and was also recovered from Period 4 pit F215F, but could easily represent a piece of structural ironwork or possible horse equipment. The object consists of a scarf welded ring of iron forming a ring 27mm in diameter.
|Find No 378||Find No 361|
A small length of iron blade (Find No 894) was recovered from a Period 4 hearth at Fishergate House. The fragment measures 58mm in length and is not sufficiently complete to determine form.
The medieval assemblage was dominated by structural ironwork, predominantly nails, but hinge pivots, strap hinges, clench bolts, roves and staples were also identified alongside dress accessories, toilet implements, writing equipment, horse furniture and knives.
Fourteen dress pins were assigned to the medieval period on the basis of diagnostic manufacturing techniques or head form. Several other possible pin shanks were recovered, but were irregular or misshapen and have been recorded as possible metalworking scrap. The majority of the pins were simple drawn wire pins with wire-wrapped heads (Find nos 304, 2079, 2084, 2099, 2135 and 2177) or drawn heads (Find nos 2130, 2131, 2134, 2137, 2138, 2140, 2141, 2144 and 2147) and were recovered exclusively from Period 7 to 9 features. Such pins are likely to have been used to fasten clothing or hairstyles and become very common from the 14th century (Egan and Pritchard 2002, 299). Several headless copper alloy pin shanks are likely to represent further examples of these small dress pins (Find nos 2075, 2160, 2168, 2175, 2183, 2200 and 2224).
Find nos 2084, 2079, 2130, 2131, 2134, 2135, 2137, 2138, 2140, 2141 and 2144
A single complete lozenge-headed pin decorated with rocker-arm tracery (Find no 2172) was recovered from a Period 6 beamslot. Such pins first appear in Anglo-Scandinavian deposits, although more commonly from the 11th century onwards. Other similar pins are known from York including, among three examples, an almost identical pin from 46-54 Fishergate (Waterman 1950, 78 Fig 11; Rogers 1993, 1363, Fig 664; Mainman and Rogers 2000, 2580, Fig. 1274).
Find No 2172
A single poorly-preserved globular-headed copper-alloy pin was recovered from the region of the right arm of a burial at Fishergate House and appears to have been used as a shroud pin in Inhumation 21.
Five copper-alloy finger rings are dateable to the medieval period. Three rings consist of simple copper-alloy bands (Find nos 2157, 2182 and 2616), while a fourth (Find No 2162) was made of a single beaded wire looped three times, then folded and used to fasten the bands together and is dateable to the 14th century. A copper-alloy ring (Find No 372) was found on the left index finger of a female burial at Fishergate House. The ring consists of a solid D-shaped ring with a soldered oval bezel. The bezel is decorated by an engraved line containing the initial > I = with two primitive sprigs of foliage to either side. Such rings are known as merchant rings and are common finds in base metals from the late 14th century onwards. While not immediately apparent since the initial > I = is reversible, other similar rings bear initials engraved in reverse and were clearly used as seals, either for a Christian or family name. The Fishergate example is similar to a 15th century ring in the British Museum, which has an oval bezel on which is the initial 'R' is engraved in reverse surmounted by a crown and surrounded by two similarly primitive sprigs of foliage (Ward et. al. 1981, 78), and a 14th to 15th century example from Southampton engraved with the initials S and I (Dunning, 1975, 258, Fig. 241).
|Find No 2162||Find No 372|
A variety of buckles and buckle plates were recovered from Period 6 to 9 refuse deposits. Five buckles were small annular iron buckles either with the pin preserved or partially intact (Find nos 2185, 2932, 2933, 3581 and 4974). Similar buckles were recovered from London where they have been dated to the 14th to 15th century and are thought to have been used to fasten shoes (Egan and Pritchard 2002, 57). A copper-alloy buckle with integral buckle plate was recovered and is very similar to an example from York dated to the 13th to 14th century (Find No 2085) (Ottaway and Rogers 2002, 2889-90, Fig 1467). A double oval buckle frame with a small portion of pin intact (Find No 2076) was recovered from a Period 7A pit and is similar to an example from London where this form of buckle is dated predominantly to the 14th to 15th century (Egan and Pritchard 2002, Fig 50). The remaining buckles can be characterized either as D-shaped (Find No 2086, 2119 and 2182) or rectangular buckles (Find nos 2922, 3312 and 4959), the latter type was found in both copper-alloy and iron.
Find No 2085
|Find No 2086
||Find No 4959||Find No 2119|
|Find No 4974|
|Find No 2076||Find No 3581|
Three buckle plates were also recovered (Find No 2087, 2093 and 2123). The best preserved example consists of a rectangular tab of folded copper alloy sheet decorated with a recess and punched line decoration and five rivet holes intact (Find No 2087). The remaining two examples are simpler, Find no 2123 consists of thin bar with intact rivet, and folded notched tab, while Find No 2093 consists of a simple rectangular folded plate with recess and one folded missing.
Find No 2087
A variety of mounts was recovered and such items are likely to have adorned clothing particularly straps and belts. Many were simple rectangular bar mounts with rivets intact (Find nos 2199, 2220, 2073, 2154, 2186), although others displayed a greater degree of ornamentation. The most notable example was recovered from an early grave at Fishergate House (Find No 371). The mount consists of a cast mount decorated with a flared, equal-armed strapped cross. Very poorly preserved mineralised wood remains were identified during conservation and three rivets intact in opposing corners confirm its function as a mount. The position of the object within the grave had been disturbed, but appeared to originate from the lower abdomen; although its function remains unclear it could represent a mortuary cross mounted on a wooden object.
No direct parallels for this mount are known, although strapped equal-armed crosses appear on 11th century items from elsewhere in the city, for example on lead-alloy disc brooches, but including a lead matrix which may have functioned as a mould for casting similar objects (Mainman and Rogers 2000, 2572, Fig. 1268 and 2476, Fig.1198).
|Find No 371, front||Find No 371, back|
More common examples of mounts paralleled at other sites and dateable to the 14th to 15th century were represented (Find nos 377, 2104, 2083, 2113 and 2173). Find No 2104 consists of a rectangular copper-alloy mount with incised lines, three rivet holes and two further rivets at either end. The mount is similar to an example from London, which is decorated with fields of diagonal hatching used to form the letter 'D' or 'P'. Find No 2104 is also decorated with fields of diagonal hatching and it seems possible that this example represents the letter 'I' or a minim of a more complex letter. Find No 2173 is a sexfoil mount with two rivet holes and represents a common form, dated in London to the mid-14th century (Egan and Pritchard 2002, 187), although typically similar finds from York suggest a slightly later currency (Ottaway and Rogers 2002, 2907). Find No 2083 is a rectangular mount decorated with a spoked-wheel decoration. It is similar to a mount found riveted onto a leather strap from Bedern (ibid, 2911, Fig 1484). A more unusual mount consists of a U-shaped mount with fine stabbed decoration and three rivet holes although it seems possible that represents part of a strap guide or unusual strap end (Find No 2113).
|Find No 2104||Find No 2083||Find No 2173|
A number of strap ends and lace chapes were recovered from a variety of Period 6 to 8 contexts. Most of the chapes were typical small rolled copper-alloy sheets (Find nos 2114, 2117, 2133), one with a small fixing hole preserved (Find nos 2132). Two larger examples were also recovered (Find No 2147 and 2148) measuring 81mm and 57mm in length respectively.
Find No 2147
Find No 2132
Two strap ends were recovered (Find nos 2142 and 2225) of copper-alloy and iron. The copper alloy example is particularly fine and consists of woven interlaced wire (Find No 2142). The second example is more mundane and made of iron, which appeared in x-ray to be decorated with tinning, although investigative conservation detected none. Its terminal appears to imitate an acorn form and is similar to other known examples (Find No 2225).
|Find No 2225||Find No 2142|
A number of items related to dress fastening were recovered and included a twisted wire fastener, a brooch and possible brooch pin and a garment hook (Find nos 2149, 2193, 3129 and 2151). Find No 2151 consists of two thin sheets of copper alloy with an expanded riveted end with incised line decoration and moulding, narrowing to a square tab finished with a hooked end.
|Find No 2149||Find No 2151|
Brooch Find No 2193 consists of a shield shaped brooch with riveted brooch pin remnants, but does not appear to have been decorated further. It seems possible that the object may have been inlaid, plated or otherwise decorated, but this has not survived.
Find No 2193
A well-preserved pair of tweezers was recovered from a Period 6 pit F245B from which an elephant ivory comb was also recovered and it seems that a small cache of personal items had been deposited in the pit (Find No 2158). The tweezers are similar to a pair recovered from 46-54 Fishergate and are decorated with rocker arm tracery and instead of a slide the tweezers are fastened with a circular rivet (Ottaway and Rogers 2002, Fig 15230).
Find No 2158
A fragmentary copper-alloy toothpick was recovered from a Period 8 pit and consisted of a small length of twisted shaft and pointed spatulate end (Find no 2190). Similar items of 14th to 15th century date have been recovered from medieval deposits in the city (Ottaway and Rogers 2002, 2932, Fig. 1501).
Find No 2190
A number of fragments of whittle-tang blades were recovered, although some are too small to describe further (Find No 2880, 3134, 3582, 3360). With one exception the remaining blades are small whittle-tang blades (Find nos 364, 369, 380, 2886, 3002/3006-8, 3084, 3215, 3645, and 4977), several of which were recovered from the late cemetery soil at Fishergate House and are likely to represent redeposited medieval objects. Two blades bore cutler's marks (Find No 3191 and 3891); Find No 3191 consists of a broken whittle tang blade and an irregular shaped cutler's mark with no known parallels; Find No 3891 consists of a well-preserved scale tang blade with three rivet holes and groove along the blade back. It also bore a cutler's mark, which appears to be the numeral '8'. Other equipment associated with blades were two dagger chapes of folded copper-alloy sheet were recovered (Find nos 2105 and 2152), and a possible hilt band made of copper-alloy (Find No 2081).
Find No 3191
Find No 3891
Find No 2152
Two fragments of iron two-piece snaffles (Find No 315 and 3033) were identified from Period 6 and Period 8 features.
Two tinned iron rings (Find nos 3622 and 3926) were recovered from a hoard of scrap metal from a Period 8B pit F242B. They consist of iron rings, both 24mm in diameter and between 4mm and 5mm thick, and are tinned with thin tin wire wound around the band of the ring. It is possible that these were a pair and represent structural rings, possibly matching harness cheek pieces. Similar, though undecorated, iron rings were recovered from Coppergate and had diameters between 25mm and 50mm (Ottaway 1992, 648). The Fishergate finds may well have been a pair and their decoration with tin suggests they would have been on display.
Find No 3622
Five fragments of iron horseshoe (Find nos 2678, 2696, 3223, 3446, 3774 and 4019) were identified and recovered from features ranging in date from Period 3 to Period 9A. Only one complete example is represented and comes from a Period 9A orchard soil, but is likely to be residual from a 13th to 14th century context (Find No 2678). The shoe has three sub-rectangular nail holes and folded calkins. Find nos 2696 and 4019 appear similar in form and also probably date to the 13th to 14th century. Find No 3223, while heavily corroded, appears to have a lobate form and may therefore derive from a Period 6 context. The Period 3 object is likely to be intrusive and comes from C1802B, a recovery context.
|Find No 2678||Find No 2696||Find No 3223|
Thirty-six iron horse shoe nails were recovered mainly from deposits belonging to Period 6 to 8, with one example from a Period 3 pit which is likely to be intrusive and two from a Period 5 pit. Twenty-seven have D-shaped heads, while six have trapezoidal heads with single examples of a square and a T-shaped head included. The latter are likely to be misshapen examples of the two most common forms.
|Find No 3492||Find No 3419|
A single harness pendant (Find No 2207) was recovered from a Period 7A posthole and consists of a decorative scalloped D-shaped pendant with suspensory end for fitting to a horizontal bar.
Find No 2207
Find No 2100 is a small white metal rumbler bell and probably dates to the 13th century, since very similar examples from London are closely dated (Egan and Pritchard 2002, 336). The object has been flattened and is missing its suspensory loop and 'pea', but consists of five foils decorated with raised line decoration. An example of a rumbler bell in pewter has been recovered from Coppergate, York and has been dated to the 12th century, although is less similar in form to the Blue Bridge Lane and London examples (Ottaway and Rogers 2002, 2947). Such objects probably had many uses in dress and religious contexts, sometimes as pilgrim bells, but adornment of animals, for example, dog collars, birds of prey and horse furniture are also known and the object is grouped loosely here.
Find No 2100
Three keys and a fragmentary composite iron barrel padlock were represented in the assemblage. Find No 357 consisted of a well-preserved iron barrel-padlock key, which had been included in an inhumation as grave equipment (Find no 357). The key is directly paralleled in York by a find from Coppergate and by analogy is dateable from the 11th to 13th century in York (Ottaway and Rogers 2002, 2876, Fig. 1457). In addition, a second iron key of slightly later date was recovered from another inhumation at the site, but was not clearly included deliberately with the burial. The item was recovered in three sections, but can be identified as a latch key and is likely to date to the 14th to 15th century (ibid, 2879, Fig. 1459). The third key is of copper-alloy and represented by a relatively elaborate openwork head, although the stem and loop are missing. The object is unstratified from a modern wall make-up at Fishergate House, but probably dates to the 15th century.
Find No 357
Find No 360
Find No 2212
The fragmentary barrel padlock was recovered from a Period 7A pit and consisted of a folded copper-alloy sheet base and iron spine, pins and case ends. The object was poorly preserved and beyond reconstruction and little more detail can be gleaned (Find No 2178).
A total of 990 nails were recovered from Period 5 to 8 deposits and residually in Period 9 contexts. The assemblage was dominated by flat-headed nails (442) with circular or square heads, generally square in section; most were recovered from the backfills of the Period 7B quarry pits, although an assemblage of forty-one nails was recovered from a grave used in the construction of a coffin. In addition, a total of forty-one headless nails were identified in the assemblage. 486 undiagnostic nail shanks are likely to represent further examples of these two types of nail.
In addition five large and sixteen small dome-headed nails or tacks were recovered alongside seven roves and twelve clench bolts. The roves varied in form from square to diamond with less distinct intermediate forms and reflected rove in clench bolts.
|Find No 3694 (flat-headed nail)|
|Find No 3591 (rove)||Find No 3884 (rove)|
|Find No 3696 (clench bolt)|
Three lead washers were recovered from deposits of late medieval to post-medieval date (Find nos 2120, 2189 and 2102).
Fourteen iron staples were identified in the assemblage being six rectangular staples and eight U-shaped staples.
Nine hinge pivots were recovered from Period 6 to 8 features and were accompanied by two looped strap hinges (Find No 3734 and 3880). A smaller casket hinge was represented by two hinge straps fastened together (Find No 3625). In addition a large strap hinge fragment was recovered from Fishergate House and is likely to represent door furniture (Find No 374).
|Find No 3625||Find No 3880|
|Find No 374|
A single iron stylus was identified from a Period 6 pit and consists of a small round-sectioned shank with a blunt, slightly bent end and a damaged, but probably spatulate head (Find No 3409). In addition, a bone stylus or parchment-pricker was recovered from a Period 8 put and is fitted with an iron tip (Find No 2775) (see Bone, Antler, Ivory and Horn objects).
Find No 3409
Two scale pans were recovered from a hoard of scrap metal from a Period 8 pit (Find nos 2136 and 2146). Find No 2136 is a domed copper-alloy pan, although has a central hole rather than three holes at its edge. Find no 2146 is a more familiar triangular-shaped pan with circular holes at each corner. It is decorated with fine cast or punched decoration in the form of two concentric circles surrounding a seven-pointed crown.
|Find No 2136||Find No 2146|
A long strip of folded copper-alloy sheet perforated with regularly spaced rivet holes was recovered from a period 7 pit (Find No 2198). One end is preserved and terminates with a lobe of sheet with a broken rivet hole. The function of the piece is not clear, but similar strips are thought to bind the rims of wooden vessels or represent book furniture.
Find No 2198
Three lead-alloy fish net sinkers were recovered from late medieval deposits and one was unstratified (Find No 2101, 2127 and 2210). All three are roughly cylindrical in form and lack axial perforation, but are paralleled by similar possible hand net sinkers, appropriately from Fishergate (Rogers 1993, 1319-20; Ottaway and Rogers 2002, 2748).
Find No 2723 is a blade of unknown function, although the curved blade has parallels in leather-working blades. Rather than being tanged, the tool has a bifurcated curved handle and appears not to have been hafted.
Find No 2723
A variety of objects appeared to represent scrap metal and took the form of offcuts of both iron and copper-alloy sheet, bent copper-alloy wire, small iron bars and a small pile of possible corroded iron filings. Three small fragments of copper-alloy sheet with roundels punched out were recovered and signal button-making among the metal-working crafts (Find nos 2115, 2159 and 2166).
Find No 2159