An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 1, Eburacum, Roman York. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1962.
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ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE ANCIENT AND HISTORICAL MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS OF ENGLAND
Report to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty
We, the undersigned Commissioners, appointed to make an Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions connected with, or illustrative of, the contemporary culture, civilisation and conditions of life of the people of England, excluding Monmouthshire, from the earliest times to the year 1714, and such further Monuments and Constructions subsequent to that year as may seem in our discretion to be worthy of mention therein, and to specify those which seem most worthy of preservation, humbly submit to your Majesty the following Report on the Roman Monuments of the City of York, being the twenty-second Report on the work of the Commission since its first appointment.
2. It is with great regret that we have to record the loss to the Commission through the deaths of Mr. Hugh Stanford London, Norfolk Herald Extraordinary, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and of Mr. Walter Hindes Godfrey, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. We have also to record the loss to the Commission through resignations owing to ill-health of Sir Cyril Fred Fox, Doctor of Letters, Doctor of Philosophy, Fellow of the British Academy, Honorary Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries, and of Mr. Walter Godfrey Allen, Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
3. Consequent upon the death of Mr. H. S. London, we have obtained the agreement of Mr. Thomas Daniel Tremlett, Master of Arts, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, to advise the Commission upon heraldic questions.
4. We have pleasure in reporting the completion of our enquiries into Ebvracvm, the Roman City of York, of which we have recorded the remains of 61 monuments, including the legionary fortress with its defences, streets and internal buildings as one monument. Further, we have described 154 Roman inscriptions, sculptured stones and architectural fragments and listed some 500 Roman burials.
5. Following our usual practice we have prepared an illustrated volume containing a full Inventory of the Roman monuments and relics of the City, which, under the advice of the Lords Commissioners of Your Majesty's Treasury, will be issued as a non-Parliamentary publication. This is the first of a series of volumes devoted to the City of York.
6. The special nature of the problem of describing the Roman remains has necessitated changes in presentation in the Inventory. The visible monuments surviving in situ are all fragmentary; many others have been excavated at some time, by chance or design, and then covered, if not destroyed, and the only evidences of them surviving for our use are written records and surveys, varying greatly in competence and accuracy. For both the foregoing it has been possible to adhere more or less to the order and method of describing monuments adopted in earlier Inventories, particularising the monuments seen and surveyed and those known only from records. By deduction from symmetry the existence of others is postulated. In order to give the fullest possible picture of the culture, civilisation and conditions of life of the people of Ebvracvm, as our Royal Warrant requires, it has, however, been necessary to include all the inscriptions, sculptured stones and architectural fragments known from York, though not in situ, and a generous selection of the artefacts of known provenance found in the City. Separate sections of the Inventory are devoted to the latter. Furthermore, the cemeteries and scattered burials throw light on the rites practised in Roman York, the finds therein show the achievements of Roman craftsmanship, and the skeletal remains indicate even the stature and racial characteristics of the people. Therefore the burials too are given a special section.
7. Though archaeological investigation of Roman York has been haphazard and recording of the discoveries often inadequate, valuable work has been done in the past by a number of devoted scholars, in particular the Rev. Charles Wellbeloved (1769–1858), the Rev. James Raine (1830–96), George Benson (1856–1935) and Steuart Napier Miller (1880–1952). The Commission's indebtedness to these men is apparent in the Inventory.
8. Our special thanks are due to the Corporation of York, to the Yorkshire Philosophical Society and to all the owners of property on which Roman monuments stand for their co-operation in allowing our staff to inspect and note the monuments. The Philosophical Society and, since January 1961, the Corporation of York have allowed us access to the important collections in the Yorkshire Museum, where our work has been helped at all stages by the Keeper, Mr. G. F. Willmot; we have also received facilities for examining the objects or records to do with Roman York in the charge of the York Public Library, St. John's College and Mount School, York, and the Sheffield Museum; for these we wish to put on record our sincere gratitude. To Mr. J. Biggins, Reference Librarian at York Public Library, and his staff engaged in indexing the York newspapers, we are indebted for research which has made possible the inclusion of so many newspaper references in the Inventory. To Mr. L. P. Wenham, again to Mr. Willmot, and also to Mr. R. A. Hill, the Rev. Angelo Raine and Mr. I. M. Stead we are grateful for detailed information about the excavations they have conducted in York, and to Mr. J. P. Gillam for information regarding the pottery from Trentholme Drive. Special articles in the Inventory have been most kindly contributed by Dr. D. B. Harden on Glass in Roman York, by Miss A. S. Henshall on Gypsum Burials and by Professor R. Warwick on the Skeletal Remains from Trentholme Drive Cemetery. We are indebted to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, for the photograph of the York altar there, to Mrs. M. E. Cox and Mr. Dudley Waterman for the use of their drawings of glass and grave groups, and to British Railways for the photographs of the 1939 excavations of the Public Baths in Old Station Yard.
(12) Legionary Fortress, the remains of 2nd to 4th-century defences standing and visible at the east, west and south angles, including the important Multangular Tower and the East Angle Tower; the basement of the Bath House under the Mail Coach Inn in St. Sampson's Square.
This list, restricted as it is to visible monuments, can give no indication of the Roman remains in York that survive but are buried from sight. There is good evidence that the defensive wall of the legionary fortress in places survives almost to full height within the rampart of the mediaeval City walls. We therefore recommend further that at all times archaeological supervision be given to any excavations upon the mediaeval ramparts for whatever purpose, and also that notice be required to be given to the appropriate authority of any structure found at Roman levels in excavation elsewhere in the City and that the authority institute competent archaeological inspection, and, if necessary, investigation, of the find.
10. We desire to express our acknowledgement of the good work accomplished by our Executive Staff as a whole, and in particular by Mr. A. R. Dufty, Sec. S.A., A.R.I.B.A., the Editor of the Inventory, and Mr. H. G. Ramm, M.A., F.S.A., who supplied the basic material for the text; by Miss V. M. Dallas, M.B.E., F.S.A., Mr. Basil Marriott, L.R.I.B.A., and Miss V.E. Whitfield, B.A., who have given valuable assistance in the editorial work, and by Mr. W. C. Light, who was responsible for photography. Much help has been given by Messrs. S. D. T. Spittle, M.A., A.R.I.B.A., F.S.A., J.E. Williams, E.R.D., F.S.A., C. F. Stell, M.A., A.R.I.B.A., and A. L. Pope in preparing the drawings illustrating the text, by Mr. D. P. Dymond, B. A., in collecting information, and by Mr. C. J. Bassham in photography.
11. We desire to place on record our regret at the death in 1958 of Mr. E. A. R. Rahbula, O.B.E., M.C., A.R.I.B.A., F.S.A., a Silver Medallist of the Royal Academy Schools, who joined the staff in 1913, and our appreciation of his services to the Commission. He was our senior Investigator for 17 years before his retirement in 1955. After being so seriously wounded in the 1914–18 war as to lose the use of his right arm, he returned to the Commission and trained himself to become highly skilled in draughtsmanship with his left hand.
12. Upon notification by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, the Commission, in collaboration with the National Buildings Record, has for six years been inspecting buildings threatened with destruction and surveying and noting those of architectural or archaeological importance. The task that this work presents throughout the country is so formidable that the limited staff available for it must exercise the strictest standards of selection if the main work of the Commission, the compiling of Inventories, is not to suffer. Even so, to July 1961 some 1000 buildings have been visited and, of these, 490 have been surveyed and noted; the MS. records are with the Commission. A White Paper listing these buildings will issue shortly.
13. Two Inventories of the Commission, dealing respectively with the monuments of the north-western part of the County of Cambridge and the south-eastern part of the County of Dorset, are now being edited and will be the next to appear.