Blanket Row Excavation



Yorkshire Water Services Ltd


Urban Evaluation


From the late 12th century, a settlement called Wyke developed around the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber estuary. Trade boomed, and by the end of the following century Wyke ranked third among the ports on the east and south coasts of England. Edward I, noting the success of the place, purchased Wyke and its adjoining land in 1293 and set about organising building plots and attracting settlers, creating what was to become Kingston upon Hull. A licence to fortify the town was issued in 1321.

In the late 1990s, Yorkshire Water constructed new wastewater treatment facilities for Hull and its surrounding area. Part of this major engineering project involved construction of an 8.7km tunnel between West Hull and Saltend, accessed by nine 12m-diameter shafts spaced approximately 1km apart. One of the shafts was located at Blanket Row, a street in the south-west of the medieval walled town. In view of the historically sensitive location, NAA was commissioned to evaluate then excavate the site ahead of the works. A subsequent tunnel collapse required further excavations at several points to either side of the main excavation. The archaeological investigations took place between 1997 and 2003.

The excavation covered the Blanket Row thoroughfare and parts of medieval plots on either side, which could be confidently related to landholdings recorded by medieval leases, other documents and, by the early post-medieval period, detailed cartographic sources. This greatly enhanced interpretation of the archaeological results.

The earliest evidence consisted of early 14th-century buildings, constructed at the time the royal planned town was taking shape. The buildings had limestone sill walls to support timber superstructures. A new building with brick sill walls was added on the north side of the road in the late 15th or early 16th century. An 8m-wide cobbled road surface was laid down in the same period, suggesting that Blanket Row was one of the main routes to the staithes on the River Hull. The buildings to the north of the road were demolished in the 16th century and the area remained as open ground for approximately 200 years. The buildings south of the road had a more complex history, including periods of disuse, before they too were demolished in the 17th and 18th centuries. During the 18th and 19th centuries, both street frontages were fully developed, but most buildings were demolished in 1980. The smaller excavation areas revealed foundations of another six medieval buildings and further evidence of the road.

The excavations produced a large and important assemblage of artefacts, including pottery, metalwork, and coins, as well as worked bone, ivory and stone. The collection of medieval bricks and tiles is one of the largest groups yet recovered from East Yorkshire. Among the biological remains, the large and well-preserved group of fish bones from late-medieval floor deposits was of considerable significance. A synthesis combining the results of these complex excavations, analysis of the finds and biological assemblages and comprehensive historical research, was published as a monograph in 2011:

Lee, J. (2011) Excavations at Blanket Row, Hull, 1997–2003. East Riding Archaeologist 13. Hull: The East Riding Archaeological Society.

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