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Archeox Newsletter June 2013

Archeox Newsletter June 2013


Test Pits: It’s our final digging season so make sure you get involved! We are now coming into our final season of practical fieldwork and part of this includes targeted test pitting. The purpose of these test pits is to solve any unanswered questions we may still have so that the project research is ready for publication work to begin in 2014.

LittlemoreWe will be targeting the older houses particularly the triangle within Cowley Road and Oxford Road to further our understanding of medieval Littlemore, an important village with two centres as well its earlier landscape. Flints found during the Minchery Paddock excavations near the Kassam Stadium, suggest significant prehistoric activity in the area and we hope further test pitting may also help us understand the much earlier history of Littlemore.Currently we have test pit dates confirmed for the 15th and 16th of June

Temple Cowley  The purpose of these test pits is to search for any evidence of the manor of the crusading monks the Knights Templar. This ties in with our work at Littlemore Priory, where the Knights were patrons from around 1240 until their dissolution. Prehistoric and Romano-British finds have been recovered to the north of Temple Cowley so there is good potential for much earlier archaeology too.Streets of particular interest are Temple Road, St Christopher’s Place, Don Bosco Close, Junction Road and Crescent Close. If you live on one of these roads and would like a test pit or know someone who might then please do get in touch. Currently we are hoping to dig on Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th of June.

Post Excavation: The digging may stop but the work continues!The Minchery Paddock write up is well underway. Around 10 volunteers are working away to produce a trench narrative that essentially tells the story of how the trenches were excavated and what was uncovered. Meanwhile the plan and section drawings done onsite have been inked and sent to the Institute of Archaeology to be scanned and digitised ready for publication and archiving.

Environmental samples taken during the Minchery Paddock excavation and from a number of test pits have been processed by Archeox Volunteers with the help of Oxford Archaeology. The samples were ‘floated’ at Oxford Archaeology to separate light burnt material such as seeds and  the remaining material was washed through three more sieves of different sizes to make it easier to look for bones, pottery and other small artefacts. The samples were then sorted using microscopes and hand lenses and produced some fantastic evidence including fish bones, charred grain and copper veil pins as well as the copper wire used in pin making. These samples have now been sent to an environmental specialist who will assess the material and produce a specialist report to go into the overall excavation report.All the bulk finds have been washed, sorted and catalogued and the pottery has been inked. All the finds are now ready to be sent to bone, pottery, tile and metal work experts so that they too can produce specialist reports including dates.

Small finds- which are our special finds such as the flints, decorated tiles, worked stone and metal objects have been catalogued and photographed by Project Volunteers and are now being sent to Anni Byard, the Finds Liaison Officer for Oxfordshire for identification.

Geophysics South Park

Fresh from the Minchery Farm excavations, Archeox volunteers were out again in freezing fog, sleet and snow in December and January doing a geophysical survey of South Park.  As well as being one of the biggest green spaces in East Oxford (and so worthy of a survey in its own right); the park is also the proposed location of Parliamentarian siege works from the civil war.  Matching earthworks shown on a 1699 landscape painting with the present day lie of the land it was decided to focus on the western end of the park.  In all an area of almost 12 hectares was surveyed. The results of the survey are difficult to interpret because of magnetic noise caused by ferrous items dropped in the park, the site of the annual bonfire, and by pipes and cables crossing the park.  However, a number of features can be teased out of the back ground noise.  These include the ridges and furrows of potentially medieval field systems and the lines of now removed post medieval field boundaries.  As for the civil war no definite features were identified, although it is possible that some of the removed field boundaries at the top of the slope in the park may follow the line of older fortifications.  It is hoped to extend the survey to the north into Headington Hill Park, where LiDAR data shows some potentially interesting humps and bumps apparently cutting across the older ridge and furrow.  Now that it is getting warmer the project will be running more geophysical surveys, contact to get involved.


In March and April the project was able to acquire a new type of digital mapping for East Oxford.  Light, Detection and Ranging or LiDAR data uses an airborne laser scanner to create a high resolution contour map, or terrain model of the ground surface.  We have acquired two LiDAR data sets from the Environment Agency, a digital surface model (DSM) which shows everything on the ground surface including trees, buildings and other structures, and a digital terrain model (DTM) which concentrates on the underlying land form with all of the trees and buildings stripped out. The LiDAR data is already proving invaluable for understanding the subtle humps and bumps in open spaces around East Oxford.  We hope to run an evening or weekend session on working with LiDAR data in the autumn.  Contact for more information.

Stone tools from Iffley Fields

Throughout March and April Archeox volunteers have been in the Pitt Rivers Museum studying a collection of prehistoric stone tools from the Iffley Fields area. This collection is known as the Bell Collection after its finder, Alexander James Montgomerie Bell, and was discovered at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. The collection contains a range of really interesting artefacts including Mesolithic mircoliths, Neolithic and Early Bronze Age arrowheads and fragments of Neolithic polished flint axes.  Detailed records of where the finds original location have been lost, however, a reference to a lecture given by Bell suggests that they come from the Bedford Street, Fairacres Road and Addison Crescent area. We will be excavating test pits in Iffley Fields over the summer to try to pin down the original location of these finds more closely.  Our first two test pits produced no flints, however, a neighbour brought us a potentially Neolithic flint scraper he had found whilst gardening. 

The Festival of British Archaeology

The festival is an annual national event and a huge celebration of British Archaeology! This year’s festival of British Archaeology takes place between the 13th and 28th of July and events will take place all over Oxford. Events have already been confirmed by the Ashmolean Museum, Museum of Oxford, Oxford Castle, The Milestone Society and of course- Archeox!

Sunday the 14th of July from 11-4pm. Oxford Castle: Archeox along with a number of heritage groups will be holding stalls in the Courtyard of Oxford Castle celebrating recent work. There will also be a number of talks including an Archeox talk at 12pm on the Minchery Paddock excavations and the next stages of the project!

Wednesday the 17th of July: ‘Archaeology of East Oxford Showcase’: 10 till 3pm: A chance to come and see a selection of the work the east Oxford project has carried out over the last 12 months including our Minchery Paddock excavations, geophysical survey looking for Civil War archaeology in South Park, recent work from our place names and map research groups and more. There will be poster displays and finds on show and project volunteers to chat to.Wednesday the 24th of July: ‘Archaeology of East Oxford Mini Talks’ 12-3pmA set of mini lectures (lasting around 20- 30 minutes each with time for plenty of questions!) on our recent work in east Oxford. 12: The Archaeology of East Oxford Project12.30: East Oxford Place Names Research Group1: The Minchery Paddock Excavations 20121.45: Post Excavation: What happens after you finish digging?2.15: East Oxford during the Civil War: Geophysical Survey in South Park2.45: East Oxford From Above ProjectSunday the 28th of July: ‘Arty Archaeology’: 10 till 12 in the Education Studio: Tile making for children (adults are always welcome too!). Come and learn about Medieval tilers, see some of the Medieval Tiles excavated from Littlemore Priory and make your own tile to take home! 1pm- 3pm: Fantastic Finds and Arty Archaeology in the Atrium: From Victorian pharmacy bottles too gruesome dog skulls, from Bronze Age arrow heads to Medieval monastic pottery- come and see some of the fantastic finds that the East Oxford Project have uncovered over the last two years and chat to the volunteers who excavated them! Arty Archaeology: The Tile Project. Following the excavations at Littlemore Priory the East Oxford project were inspired to get creative and worked with the Echo’s art group from the Fusion Art Centre in east Oxford to produce medieval inspired tiles using similar decorative techniques to those found during the dig! We will have the medieval tiles we excavated on show as well as the handmade tiles.

Dates for your Diary:

28th and 29th of May from 10-4pm: Finds Sorting test pit finds at the Ark T Centre on Crowell Road, Temple Cowley.30th May 10-2pm: More finds sorting at the Ark T Centre on Crowell Road, Temple Cowley.15th and 16th of June: Littlemore Test Pit weekend and finds washing sessions29th and 30th June: Temple Cowley Test Pit WeekendContact us:Email: archaeology.east.oxford@googlemail.comTelephone: 01865 270 319 between the hours of 10 and 4 Monday to Thursday (please note we are often out on site). If you don’t get to speak to a member of the team please call reception on 01865 270360 and leave a message with a receptionist with your contact details and we will call you back.By Post: Archaeology of East Oxford Project, 1 Wellington Square. Oxford, OX1 2JA.