York Archaeological Trust conservation project to protect important Pocklington Iron Age burial objects now complete

The delicate conservation process of the rare Iron Age chariot burial objects found in Pocklington is now complete.

Thursday, 6th August 2020, 9:55 am
Iron Age items at the Persimmon site included two upright horses.
Iron Age items at the Persimmon site included two upright horses.

The York Archaeological Trust (YAT) has been working on the chariot and other grave goods discovered on the Persimmon Homes development.

Excavations at the site by MAP Archaeological Practice in Malton had already unearthed dozens of graves, but once the importance of the barrow and its contents were realised, Mags Felter of the conservation laboratories at YAT, was called in to help the excavation team undertake the task of uncovering and consolidating the important Iron Age items.

The Pocklington site contained the remains of a high-status individual, together with several different grave goods including an impressive shield.

Two upright horses were also interred.

Paula Ware, managing director of MAP Ltd, said: “The upright horses were positioned in motion, as though leaping upwards out of the grave.

“The skeleton of the ‘warrior’ man was placed in a crouched position in the bed of the chariot with a remarkably well-preserved bronze shield, and a beautiful decorated enamelled brooch.”

The the corroded and fragile nature of the items meant that field conservation techniques such as the use of plaster bandages and block lifting, as well as very careful handling, were employed to lift the objects safely and transfer them to the conservation laboratory for further work.

During the investigative conservation work to reveal the upper surface of the shield, which had been face-down in the ground, Mags also discovered an oval perforation which was made from a sword or a spear.

This suggests the shield had either been used for defence or that it had been ritually marked for burial.

Work is now being completed to draw the shield, which is being done by YAT’s Steve Allen and 3D recording, undertaken by Marcus Abbott of the Jessop Consultancy.

Mags said: “I feel so lucky to have been part of such an amazing project.

“Turning the shield over and seeing the upper surface for the first time since it was put into the ground was a real ‘wow’ moment.

“It has been especially satisfying seeing the conservation process all the way through from excavation to publication.”