Sampling of deposits at the Queens Hotel site, York, produced a substantial number of small terrestrial vertebrate remains from the Anglo–Scandinavian features. By studying bone surface modification, fragmentation and skeletal completeness as taphonomic indicators, it was possible to demonstrate that the assemblage had resulted from two very different modes of accumulation and deposition. Refuse pits situated within the boundaries of the tenements had acted as accumulators of the fragmented and abraded small mammal and amphibian bones that existed as a sub-surface death assemblage within the local environment. In contrast, the excellent preservation and skeletal completeness of numerous frogs recovered from the basal fill of a wooden well could be accounted for by their direct entry into the burial environment as a result of pit-fall trapping. This paper also discusses the implications that the temporal and spatial variation in deposition demonstrated by the micro-faunal remains has for the reconstruction of local ecological and environmental conditions within this site, and for other such sites. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.