St. Leonard’s Hospital, York: new discoveries

St. Leonard’s Hospital, York: new discoveries

Excavations have recently taken place under York’s Theatre Royal as part of its £4m major redevelopment and have revealed foundations of walls and mortar floors which are part of the 13th century buildings of St. Leonard’s Hospital ; the theatre stands within the hospital’s original precincts

Artefacts have yet to be looked at by researchers, but these are not the only excavations that have revealed evidence of this major medieval hospital, which cared for as many 225 poor, infirm and sick residents as well as supporting others in the city with the giving of alms.  Training digs took place each summer between 2001-2004 in the Museum Gardens, where remains of the medieval undercroft of the hospital still stand . These excavations produced almost 5000 small finds and included many interesting objects. One of the most significant finds was a lead alloy papal bulla, a seal which would have been attached to a document issued by the pope in Rome; luckily for us, these featured the name of the issuing pope on one face. In this instance it was Pope Celestine III, who was pope from 1191-1198. These lead seals were restricted to use on papal documents, so perhaps this one was originally attached to a document concerning land, property or rents belonging to the hospital? Similar examples can be seen here:

It is to be hoped that results of all these excavations relating to St. Leonard’s Hospital will one day be brought together and published.


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