It is with the greatest sadness that The Friends of York Walls have to report the death of Christine (Chris) Dowell – a founder member and Trustee of FOYW.
Christine Jennifer Dowell passed away on Tuesday, September 24th 2019. She died peacefully at home in the loving care of her family following a brave journey with motor neurone disease. A wonderful wife, mother, grannie, friend and mentor to many. Her knowledge, wisdom and guidance will remain with us all.
Chris Dowell and husband John, with a small group of friends, were founder members of The Friends of York Walls in 2011. They worked tirelessly for a number of years to build up the group and promote York’s City Walls. Chris was Committee Secretary and later a Trustee. They took a very active part in the early days of openings at Fishergate Postern Tower until poorer health forced them to take a step back. Chris will be fondly remembered by all her friends and colleagues at FOYW, and we pass on our deepest sympathy and condolences to John and to all of her family. Rest In Peace, Chris.
Fishergate Postern Tower will be open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 14th & Saturday 21st September as part of the national Heritage Open Days Festival. See more information HERE
The tower will then be open on Saturdays 5th & 26th October + Saturday 2nd November. The tower is open on each date from 10am to 4pm. These dates are part of our 2019 season of Open Days, and as always it will be FREE entry.
Do come along and see us, and have a chat. Explore this unique 500 year old building, now with a NEW display of the 2018 Archaeological Dig + improved lighting.
The York Walls Festival 2019 has been a great success and will spur us on to make it into an annual event. It will return on August 15th & 16th 2020. Congratulations and well done to all those who gave their time and expertise to make the event happen.
The 2019 event legacy has resulted in a number of things which will continue to be available beyond the festival.
At Fishergate Postern Tower we now have an excellent display of the December 2018 Archaeology Dig. This display will continue to be a major new feature of the tower and will be available to view at all future FPT open days. The original of “the comb” will unfortunately not be available, but we hope that suitable replicas of the finds will continue to be exhibited.
The new lighting installed in FPT will continue to provide an enhanced visitor experience, and will form the basis for future plans to improve all aspects of the tower displays and interior features.
The Sharpstick Films recorded for FOYW and the 2019 Festival were shown at The Red Tower. These are now available to watch via the following links:-
“Around the Walls in 14 minutes” is available HERE
“Excerpts from Richard III” filmed inside FPT are available HERE
If you have any good walls related photos taken during the festival please share them with us on our Flickr page HERE and at and via our Twitter and Facebook accounts.
This year’s festival programme is bigger and more varied than in 2018, thanks to the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and the dedication of Bill Hill and our two festival assistants Holly Graham and Rebecca Spencer from York St John University. The last six months (longer in the case of York Explore) have seen many people contribute ideas, and highlights include:
a new display case at FPT to show off finds from the YAT dig last winter
a BBQ at Red Tower with the Lord Mayor coming at 3:30pm. Free food for all.
involvement with Found Fiction (story-writing activities), Fox Lane Books (bookstalls), the River Foss Society (boards on Foss Islands Road about the history and nature of the area) and Good Organisation (supporting homeless people in York)
a charity challenge. York Mind fundraiser Brian Mullins is walking the on or near the walls for 24 hours, starting at 11am on the Saturday.
a new York Walls Activity Booklet, with 8 pages of fun-filled activities. The Explorer Trails for stamping are back too.
York Archaeological Trust have been doing some more work to study the ivory comb found at Fishergate Postern Tower during the December 2018 dig.
Here’s another update on post-excavations from FPT. The ivory comb photogrammetry is now live on https://skfb.ly/6LIHY
As you can see, YAT’s top spec DSLR struggled to get the detail between the teeth, but even a laser scanner would struggle there. The detail of the grain of the ivory has come out very nicely, as have the crafts person’s tool marks.
A 3D print copy of the comb is being investigated. Once this has been done, YAT will be able to provide a cost for the object. Estimate around £40 – as the teeth will need to be manually sawn.
In December 2018 the York Archaeological Trust (YAT) led a dig at Fishergate Postern Tower for The City of York Council with the help of Friends of York Walls volunteers. We are now excited to reveal some of the interesting finds that were collected from the community excavation!
The first item, said by archaeologists to be the most significant personal object recovered from the excavation, is a post-medieval comb possibly owned by a former tenant of Fishergate Postern Tower. After analysis in the YAT Conservation Lab, the growth rings visible on the comb prove that it is made of elephant tusk! This find is at least 300 years old, almost complete in its physicality and is a must see.
As well as this, a wide range of pottery pieces were found, each telling their own tale across 2,000 years of York’s history. This included a (get ready for it) post-medieval fine oxidised industrial earthenware wide shallow flanged bowl, or Pancheon to us. These pieces were likely to have been used by The Phoenix Iron Foundry, formerly located on George Street close to Fishergate Postern Tower and therefore serve as a valuable piece of York’s history.
There are plenty more pieces to show you so don’t forget to visit Fishergate Postern Tower on the 10th and 11th August to see what else we’ve found.
If you can’t wait that long to see some of our discoveries, you can visit Sketchfab via your web browserHERE on PC, tablet or phone to see a virtual tour of the 1504 foundations exposed during the dig. Or likewise, if you have access to a smartphone and you can download the Sketchfab app to see the 3D model of Fishergate Postern Tower in augmented reality and VR. Simply search for YAT on the app and away you go!
If you wish to see the full report of the dig for free you can access itHERE via the City of York Council’s website. We look forward to showing you what we found in real life at the York Walls Festival across both days at Fishergate Postern Tower.