Preface

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English Heritage

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Year published

1962

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17-19

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'Preface', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 1: Eburacum, Roman York (1962), pp. XVII-XIX. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=125255 Date accessed: 02 September 2014.


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Contents

PREFACE

This Volume, the first of a series devoted to the City of York, contains the official Report of the Commission, with the list of Roman monuments selected as especially worthy of preservation; an Introduction, in which the topography of the area and the origin and growth of Eburacum in the context of the Roman Empire are considered; an illustrated Inventory, with a concise account of the known Roman monuments; special articles on glass and jet, gypsum burials and some skeletal remains in Roman York; a glossary of the archaeological, architectural and special terms used in the volume; a map, showing the topographical distribution of the monuments and burials recorded; a bibliography and an index.

Whilst the general format adopted for the Inventory of the City of Cambridge has again been used, the special nature of the subject has necessitated a different arrangement, more nearly akin to that adopted for the Commission's Inventory of Roman London published in 1927.

The structural remains of Eburacum standing above ground and visible today are few. Some towers and short lengths of the curtain-wall of the legionary fortress and the basement of a bath-house can still be seen in situ, little more. But demonstrably much survives below ground, indeed in places the walls of the fortress have been found to stand almost to their full height buried in the mediaeval City rampart. Knowledge of the buried remains has been obtained by excavation, both organised and random, over the years, much of it ill-recorded. The Inventory therefore includes the results of direct surveys, of analyses of excavation records, and of deductions from casual reports. The accumulated finds from burials discovered over the years, endowed with intrinsic interest and often with beauty, constitute important evidence for dating the interments and establishing the rites practised. A section of the Inventory is therefore given to Burials. Further, much carved masonry and sculpture, now mostly preserved in the Yorkshire Museum, illustrates the craftsmanship and artistic achievement in York in the Roman period, and includes an extensive group of inscriptions of considerable historic importance. All these fragments are described in the Inventory under the head Inscriptions, Sculptures and Architectural Fragments for, although knowledge of their immediate context is often lost, they make an essential contribution to the study of the Roman city.

The entries in the Inventory are arranged as follows:

Approach Roads

Military Sites

Civilian Settlements

Burials

Inscriptions etc.

The monuments included under the first three heads are numbered consecutively, with the exception of the internal buildings in the legionary fortress. The fortress is treated as an entity, with defences, streets and buildings all under one number though sub-divided under their respective heads for ease of reference. Thereafter, the Burials are arranged under Regions I–V sub-divided into smaller Areas, to simplify the complexity of their topographical incidence. Inscriptions etc. follow under their own consecutive numbering, grouped under the sub-heads Secular, Religious, Sepulchral, to which are appended two miscellaneous groups, Inscribed Small Objects and Inscribed Pottery.

The descriptions of monuments are of necessity much compressed, but the underlying principle on which they are based is the same throughout. A short historical or explanatory summary, with mention of any past archaeological investigations, complements a factual description, together with a map or topographical reference, where appropriate, and select references to documentary and printed sources. The descriptions of burials are still briefer: after prefatory notes under each Region and Area as to distribution of burials therein and rites practised, the burials are listed, for the most part individually, with archaeological references, if existent. The descriptions of inscriptions, sculptures, small finds etc. are generally, in default of more detailed information, mainly objective.

The remains of Roman York are so fragmentary that the policy has been adopted for this Inventory of supplementing very fully the written descriptions with illustrations. These last are, with a few exceptions, from photographs taken by the Commission's photographic staff, whose work, often done under most adverse conditions, I think deserves special recognition. The most important exceptions are the illustrations of past excavations; these vary greatly in quality but are reproduced since they are often the only record of discoveries. The full illustrative cover will, it is hoped, give the reader of this Inventory a clearer picture of the character and quality of life in Roman York than can be conveyed by the necessarily concise and dispassionate inventory text. The two-colour reproduction showing the relative position of the legionary fortress in the modern city is based upon an air photograph supplied by the Air Ministry. Twelve illustrations are derived from photographs kindly lent by the Yorkshire Museum, of which four are the copyright of British Railways (on Plates 3, 10, 16, 23, 25 and Plates 19, 20). The Commission is much indebted to the Reverend Angelo Raine, to Mr. L. P. Wenham and to Mr. G. F. Willmot for their ready help with answers to many questions regarding excavations in the city which they conducted or watched. Further we wish to place on record our acknowledgement of the co-operation and assistance the staff of the Commission has constantly received from Mr. Willmot in examining and photographing exhibits in the Yorkshire Museum, of which he is Keeper. Some acknowledgement of the debt owed by all students of Roman York to past authorities is made elsewhere in this Inventory (see pp. xxxix–xli).

To insure clearness of description plans of all the more important structural remains in situ are included wherever recoverable, consistency of scale being maintained so far as is practicable. The dimensions given in the Inventory are internal unless otherwise stated and read from E.-W., N.-S. Every inscription from Eburacum of importance will be found illustrated either in line or in half-tone and most of the sculptures are illustrated; rather more rigorous selection has been exercised over the presentation of smaller finds. The Plates and many figures of pottery include examples of importance for dating purposes and others as representative of types from amongst the mass of material in the Yorkshire Museum and elsewhere; though the illustrations of glass are fewer, far less glass from Roman York survives and the cover is thus as complete. The pottery is reproduced at a quarter full size, the glass at a half, the walls of the latter being too thin to allow of greater reduction. Mrs. M. E. Cox kindly prepared the drawings of glass fragments, whilst the illustrations of the Sycamore Terrace find, the bronze casket-fittings and the rest of the glass are from drawings made by Mr. Dudley Waterman some years ago and generously put at the Commission's disposal.

In accordance with the Commission's practice the accounts of all the monuments visible are based upon notes and surveys taken on the site. In a work of such intricacy and detail there must be some mistakes. But I hope that these are neither numerous nor serious. A further guarantee of accuracy lies in the fact that my Fellow Commissioners Professor I. A. Richmond and Mr. C. A. R. Radford have checked the draft accounts in situ.

Thanks are particularly due to Professor Richmond who has given freely of his time, his knowledge and his energy to watching over the progress of this Inventory. He has scrutinised the whole text at every Editorial stage. Not least, we are indebted to him for writing the Introduction to the Inventory, which will stand as a definitive account of Eburacum.

My colleagues and I shall of course welcome any corrections and criticisms of the Inventory that may be sent to me with a view to their possible inclusion in some future edition. I would draw attention to the fact that the record cards for Roman York may be consulted by properly accredited persons who give notice of their intention to the Secretary of the Commission at Fielden House, 10 Great College Street, S.W. 1. Copies of photographs may be purchased on application to the same address.

SALISBURY