Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 17:51 UK
Old Scarborough revealed

Archaeologists at work
Archaeologists excavating inside the Scarborough Marine Engineers building

Excavations in Scarborough's old town have uncovered some interesting results.

Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society undertook the work within a building previously used by a marine engineering business. The building is a large, mid 20th century structure which fronts Sandside and extends back right through to Quay Street.

The purpose of the work was to find out about archaeological deposits on the site and, more specifically, to look for the remains of a late medieval timber building, called 'Crazy Cottage', known to have stood on the south side of Quay Street before the construction of the marine engineers. The archaeologists also hoped to discover the possible alignment of the later medieval sea wall.

The first trench was opened in the northwest part of the building and successfully located the linear foundations of stone boulders which supported the timber frame of 'Crazy Cottage'.

Before the excavation began, archaeologists suspected the sea wall might have run under the building because of a distinct rise still visible in nearby alleys linking Quay Street and Sandside. However, they now believe the rise in the modern ground surface is caused by a pre-existing dune system which formed part of major land reclamation programmes in late medieval times.

Crazy Cottage's foundations
The stone boulders which supported the timber frame of Crazy Cottage

Incorporated within the reclamation was a well-constructed stone-lined drain running north to south.

A further trench was dug which located the approximate position of the medieval sea wall. At this point all the stone had been removed, presumably so it could be reused in the post-medieval sea wall further south.

The findings from the excavation are still being analysed They include significant quantities of pottery from two separate phases of land reclamation.

The Scarborough pottery industry, which flourished from the late 12th century until the early 14th century, produced high class wares with a lustrous green glaze. Examples have been found in many places on the north European coast.

One of the high quality table wares they produced was a highly decorated very large water or wine jug known as a 'knightjug', so called because they were decorated with knights in armour on horseback, possibly representing a stag hunt.

Fragment of Scarborough ware knightjug
It is unusual to find sherds of 'knightjug' but some were found

At the Marine Engineers site vast quantities of Scarboroughware were found. It is unusual to find sherds of 'knightjug' but some were found on the site.

The soil conditions helped preserve both wood and leather items, particularly shoes.

Evidence of early shipbuilding was present including iron and timber nails, quantities of iron slag and a possible pitch pot. Clay tiles, limestone roofing and animal bones were also discovered on the site.

The Scarborough and Historical Society is pleased with the information revealed so far.

Members hope that when the site is developed it might be possible to machine dig a trench to confirm the line of the medieval sea wall.

Scarborough's Tudor town plan
04 Aug 09 |  History
Uncovering York's industrial past
03 Aug 09 |  History
Investing in York's Viking past
20 Jul 09 |  History
Journeying into Selby's lost past
02 Jul 09 |  History


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific