The contemporary chambers of the Undercroft are built in a space created during emergency excavations in the 1960s and 1970s which uncovered a hidden history of the site, including the remains of a Roman barracks, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and the foundations of the Norman Minster – the forerunner of the present cathedral.
The emergency excavations - or Great Dig - were carried out between 1967 and 1972 to save the Minster’s central tower from collapse. Integral weaknesses in the original construction of the Minster combined with crumbling foundations meant the Central Tower had to be underpinned to prevent further damage. A huge fundraising effort was launched to raise money for the repairs, which led to the creation of the York Minster Fund.
The Undercroft has been transformed in recent years as part of the York Minster Revealed project, a £20 million investment over five years generously supported by a £10.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The new attraction was opened in May 2013.
Find out more about the excavations carried out as part of the project.