ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE ANCIENT AND HISTORICAL
MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS OF ENGLAND
Report to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty
May It Please Your 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
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
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
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.
9. We humbly recommend to Your Majesty's notice the following Roman monuments in York as
'especially worthy of preservation':
(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.
(14–5) Practice Camps, outside the City but closely
associated with the Fortress, two Roman rectangular earthwork enclosures.
(18) Building, remains of Roman walls beneath the
church of St. Mary Bishophill Senior.
(IV Region, Area 1) Burial Vault, vaulted tombchamber on The Mount.
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.
A. E. Richardson
I. A. Richmond
V. H. Galbraith
H. C. Darby
C. A. Ralegh Radford
J. G. D. Clark
13th October 1961 Geoffrey Webb (Secretary)