Maps in Archaeology

In my communicating archaeology module we were asked to look at maps, specifically archaeological and historical maps. We were asked to look at a map archive created by the university of Edinburgh and label and annotate a map to highlight something related to our dissertation topic or an area of special interest to us. As you may have noticed from my incredibly ramble-y video that I still have no idea what my dissertation topic is going to be, so I instead decided as a starting point to look at the area around kings manor and look at any significant changes in the immediate area. What I actually found was incredibly relevant to my interests, as when you look through the different time eras of the maps something interesting happens both behind the the art gallery and between the newer headmasters building of Kings Manor.


Source: Digimap

The areas I’m looking at are highlighted in purple, the first map is the 1890s.ancient_roam2

Source: Digimap

A physical connection between the newer building and the original building (Manor house- school for the blind) appears on the earliest maps after the head masters building (adjacent to King Manor) was built. This map is from the 1900’s.


Source: Digimap

This map is the most important in my opinion as it shows both the conjoining passageway from one building to another but also how far back, up until this point, the art gallery extended. This map shows the 1930’s, and the date is especially important in the context of the art gallery.


Source: Digimap

I already knew that the building behind the art gallery was gone, but I had no idea what this stage from the 1960’s was, or what the ‘Marygate education center” (barely legible on the map) was. It is interesting that Kings Manor is still listed as the “School for the blind” but also “Formerly the Kings Manor”, which is the first time on these maps the royal connection of “the Manor” is mentioned and that also this strange passageway between the two buildings still exits.


Source: Digimap

Now those smaller building behind the gallery are gone, and so is the passage way between the two buildings, which was possibly demolished when the university took over the two school buildings in the mid 60’s. The buildings behind the gallery are far more interesting in the long run, as they were demolished in 2011 and were huts for Canadian airmen in WW2- moving this into both of my passions, conflict archaeology and building archaeology. They were used as a post war school for teachers, then for both storage for the Yorkshire Museum and work rooms for art students in the 1970s, and then finally fell into disrepair by 2011 (Stead, 2011, Anon, 2013). They were demolished to make way for an open air art space, but its interesting that such a rare survival was demolished, and not only left off the gallery’s website but also completely ignored in modern tours and guides of York. It feels like a rather sad version of James Flexners ideas on archaeological maps, in that whats chosen to be recorded in maps is actually based on what the map recorder deems important, and that clearly to a decent amount of people in York these buildings didn’t really mean anything (Flexner, 2009, 17).

(Flexner, J.L. 2009. Where is reflexive map-making in archaeological research? Towards a place based approach. Archaeological Review from Cambridge, 24(1), pp.7–21.


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