YAT launches new Archaeology on Prescription Initiative

York Archaeological Trust are working alongside York residents to improve their health and well-being while helping to build a detailed picture of life in part of York.

Archaeology on Prescription is a new, innovative project being launched in the shadow of York’s city walls at the former Willow House care home on Long Lane.

Archaeology on Prescription will see participants work with archaeologists to improve their health and well-being, as well as learn new skills in archaeology.

Local residents, particularly those who live or have lived in the Walmgate area, are also encouraged to get involved to help create the most detailed picture possible of life in this part of the city from the medieval period to the modern day.

Willow House is owned by City of York Council, and the future use of the site is under review as part of a wider redevelopment plan.

While this takes place, York Archaeological Trust has been offered the site for the Archaeology on Prescription project to excavate this site just a few metres away from the city walls.

Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, said: “This would be a great site for archaeological exploration at any time, but this scheme will see us working with a host of organisations from across the city to identify groups of people who would benefit from experiencing this kind of excavation first hand.

“We’ve had a team on site clearing the overgrown foliage, including volunteers from Good Gym, and at the start of this week and we’ve removed the turf from the area we’re planning to dig working with our first groups of participants from York St John’s Converge programme and Changing Lives.

“Over the coming months, we’ll extend the invitation to take part to anyone who feels they would benefit from this kind of outdoors activity – and we are particularly keen to hear from people who have never been involved in a heritage or archaeology project before. We are therefore also working closely with the Walmgate Community Association and Red Tower Community Hub”.

This Saturday (11 September), visitors are invited to meet the team behind the project when they will also be able to handle artefacts from other York archaeological digs.

.This Saturday (11 September), visitors are invited to meet the team behind the project when they will also be able to handle artefacts from other York archaeological digs.

Barbican Community Centre will be hosting kids’ arts and crafts, games and setting up a pop-up library and Edible York will be on hand to discuss ways in which we could create a community garden on the site.

“We are really keen to hear from local people about their experiences living and working around Walmgate, too, as part of our Voluntary Voices project. How has life changed here, with different communities coming and going over the last few years?

“We want to hear people’s memories about life in this part of the city so that we can record today’s history for future generations, as related by the people who have seen major events and changes as they happened,” added Sarah.

YAT’s Archaeology on Prescription project will run initially for nine weeks after which YAT hopes to gain funding and support to put the programme in place annually to become a permanent part of York’s health and wellbeing agenda for residents.

The pilot scheme has been supported by the Ed De Nunzio Charitable Trust, City of York Council and Make It York’s Culture & Wellbeing fund, and Arnold Clark Community Fund.