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Construction of Park and Ride Facility Land to the North-West of the A41 Bicester Oxfordshire

Leech, Steve Construction of Park and Ride Facility Land to the North-West of the A41 Bicester Oxfordshire. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Between the 9th and the 20th of August 2013 Oxford Archaeology (OA) carried out evaluation trenching on the site of a proposed Park and Ride site to the south of Bicester. The development area is c 2.04 hectares in extent, situated on the westernside of the A41 (SP 5714 2112). Atkins commissioned the work on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council. The site lies on the north-western periphery of the extra-mural settlement of Alchester Roman town, just north of Akeman Street Roman Road. Part of Alchester is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM OX 18) but Iron Age and Roman settlement is also known to extend beyond the scheduled area. The Park and Ride development lies outside the scheduled area to the northwest. The evaluation was generally successful in establishing the presence/ absence, extent, conditions, nature, character and quality of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental remains encountered. However the date of many of the features remains uncertain as they had no associated artefacts and could not be dated on stratigraphic or morphological grounds. The scarcity of artefacts and settlement features indicates that the Park and Ride site lies outside the Iron Age and Roman settlement area. Various undated possible pits or postholes were identified. These include two possible hearth pits, found in trenches 8 and 16, which are consistent with outlying settlement features. Within the narrow confines of the trenches it was not possible to determine whether these pits and postholes formed parts of buildings. In the absence of dating evidence they appear to be of limited interest. Significant features include a single human cremation burial in trench 9, which contained hobnails and tacks (the latter probably from a box) but no other artefacts. It is almost certainly of Roman date. The scarcity of human burials from this site, in comparison with a cremation and inhumation cemetery discovered during construction of the adjacent road junction c 50m to the south in 1992 (Booth et al. 2001) suggests that the site lies on the edge of the burial zone associated with the Roman town. Roman custom and law required human burials to be made outside settlements and they are commonly found lined along approach roads. The location of the site on the outskirts of Alchester Roman town, next to a Roman road junction and 50m north of a previously recorded cemetery, suggests that the site has high potential for the discovery of further human burials. The most common features encountered were ditches and gullies. These contained very few artefacts, indicating that the site lay within an area used predominantly as agricultural fields or enclosures since at least the Roman period. One of these (in trench 6) contained sufficient Roman pottery to be reasonably confident that it is of Roman date. Many of the ditches and gullies investigated are probably field drains of modern date as some features (in trenches 6, 9 and 12) contained ceramic drains or other 19th or 20th century artefacts. Two of the linear features (in trenches 7 and 11) were stone-filled gullies, which had the appearance of masonry wall footings when initially revealed but proved on excavation to be modern land drains. Field boundaries and drainage features are generally of low archaeological significance, although mapping the Iron Age and Roman features would help to define the extents of Alchester and add significantly to understanding the agricultural hinterland of the settlement.

Item Type:Client Report
Subjects:Geographical Areas > English Counties > Oxfordshire
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
ID Code:1611
Deposited By: Scott
Deposited On:27 Feb 2014 10:52
Last Modified:27 Feb 2014 10:52

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