Heslington East Community Archaeology Project

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Landscape Evolution

The site is in a special location because it is situated on the southern slope of York moraine which crosses the Vale of York from west to east. The moraine is a curving ridge of sands, clays and gravels that accumulated at the head of an advancing glacier during the ice age. When the glacier retreated the ridge was left , forming an area of land about 20 metres higher than the surrounding landscape. During prehistoric times, when the climate may have been wetter, the moraine is thought to have provided an obvious routeway across the Vale of York.

There are currently several active spring heads on Kimberlow Hill and the work we have undertaken on the site shows that in the past, probably before people settled here, there were also a series of old watercourses that ran down the slope and formed an area of standing water. This may have been a wetland area which attracted wild fowl and was attractive to prehistoric communities looking for somewhere to settle.

Some of the archaeological work on site has been more complicated because a series of sands have covered the archaeological deposits at certain times in the past, masking them from view. It is likely that these sands were blown onto the site, or washed down the slope and they are often called hillwash deposits.