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Historical & Archaeological Background: Prehistoric

Very little prehistoric material has been recovered from the city of York, and the available evidence is generally restricted to chance finds and scatters of lithic material. However, the site is known to have been situated at a nodal point within a wide prehistoric communication network (Radley 1974, 10). Fishergate is situated on a glacial moraine, which extends east-west across the Vale of York and which broadens south of the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss. The moraine is a significant chorographic feature and may have been exploited from as early as the Mesolithic as a route across the Vale. More specifically, Blue Bridge Lane occupies the point at which the ridge is cut by the River Ouse, thereby providing a natural crossing point over the river and creating access from York, via the Rivers Ouse and Humber, to the sea (Radley 1974, 10).

Later stray finds from York dated to the Neolithic to Bronze and Iron Age, where provenanced, tend to be located close to the morainic ridge. A Bronze Age palstave is recorded from Fulford and as well as other bronze objects from the Fulford-Heslington area (Radley 1974, 12). It has been argued that dykes known as Green Dykes Lane recorded as being used in the medieval period may actually have been Iron Age cross-ridge dykes or droveways utilising the ridge (ibid, 13). In the immediate area of Fishergate 'a large number prehistoric of flints' including waste flakes were recovered from 46-54 Fishergate (Rogers 1993, 1316).

More permanent activity in the vicinity might be attested at Clifford's Tower; a crouched burial in a stone cist was identified during underpinning of the tower (RCHM 1962, 69n). This burial occurred beneath Roman levels, and was thought by Radley to be no later than the early Bronze Age (Radley 1974, 12).

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