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Bicester MOD, Graven Hill, Bicester, Oxfordshire

Cockin, Guy and Mumford, James and Lawrence, Steve Bicester MOD, Graven Hill, Bicester, Oxfordshire. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Oxford Archaeology was commissioned by Graven Hill Village Development Company Ltd to undertake the evaluation of the Land Transfer Area 1 (LTA1) within the greater development boundary at Graven Hill. This comprised the excavation of 55 evaluation trenches measuring 50m by 4m. The scope and arrangement of the trenches was agreed between the client's consultant archaeologist, Waterman Infrastructure and Environment Ltd, and the Planning Archaeologist for the Cherwell District. In the event two furhter trenches measuring 30m by 2m were added to the scope. A variety of positive results were gained at five separate and distinct locations. These spanned the late Iron Age, Roman and medieval periods, indicating the varied potential of the site. The earliest significant find was a Neolithic polished flint axe fragment. This was recovered from a subsoil deposit within the western part of the evaluation area (Trench 3) although additional artefacts or features of this date were absent. Late Iron Age activity was evidenced by a dispersed group of ditches and pits focused upon Trenches 21, 22 and 24. These remains appear to be moderately well preserved and entirely of pre Roman conquest origin. The related activity seems to be relatively sprawling with the features spread over a 100m long area around the lower slopes of Graven Hill. Further late Iron Age ditches were recorded to the north of Circular Road within Trenches 12 and 13. Comparatively dense Roman remains were encountered within the northern part of the LTA1 adjacent to the current Rodney House building. Trenches 39-42 each produced a number of linear ditches, three of which produced moderate-large assemblages of pottery dated mid-late 2nd century. The relative sterility of several other ditches and the apparent phasing represented by intersections and recuts demonstrate a degree of longevity to the activity here. The ditch arrangements are suggestive of field boundaries or other small enclosures. It is possible that this activity or occupation may relate to a known building of some pretension beyond the LTA1 and development boundary to the WNW near to Langford Park Farm. Further remains of likely Roman origin were investigated in the form of Akeman Street. This survives in the modern landscape as a hedge boundary aligned approximately east-west through the evaluation area. Historically the route of Akeman Street was defined by a double hedge line boundary enclosing a track. This route was investigated along its eastern extent within the evaluation boundary where the hedge lines had been removed, revealing a track or road surface constructed of limestone pieces set within a shallow terrace into the hill slope within Trenches 49, 58 and 59. No dating evidence was present although the absence of modern material suggests that the road surface was sealed by silting layers prior to the military occupation and use of the site. Within the core of the LTA1 evaluation boundary Trenches 32 and 35 both produced evidence for medieval activity spanning the period 12th-14th century. It is unclear what the linear ditches represent in terms of activity or settlement, although the presence of domestic pottery and a buckle does suggest that some contemporary occupation may be located within the vicinity. Numerous remains relating to the military camp were encountered. These were almost entirely represented by the destruction and demolition debris resulting from the clearance of the site as part of the reinstatement to pasture fields. These remains are not significant, although interesting pottery assemblages often depicting the date of manufacture within the war period were present. Notable assemblages were recovered from Trench 11. Oxford Archaeology (OA) was commissioned by Graven Hill Village Development Company Ltd to undertake a watching brief and evaluation on separate occasions in 2016 at Graven Hill, Bicester, Oxfordshire. The watching brief was undertaken during the removal of the ground slab following the demolition of Rodney House during February. Subsequently, five additional targeted evaluation trenches were excavated in June to supplement the results of a primary evaluation stage undertaken by OA in September and November 2015. No archaeological horizons were revealed during the removal of the ground slab with the demolition disturbance being limited to the underlying hardcore rubble layer. From the evaluation phase, Trenches 60 and 61 produced inconclusive evidence for the extent of the archaeological features previously recorded in Trenches 32 and 35 during the 2015 investigation. Three shallow linear features were recorded in Trench 60, one of which produced a single sherd of Roman pottery. However, the remains did not provide more conclusive evidence for the extent or character of activity within this field. The evaluation confirmed the presence of remains of Roman Akeman Street within Trenches 62 and 63. The sequence recorded within these was comparable to those of Trenches 49, 58 and 59 from the 2015 evaluation with a surface constructed of limestone pieces set within a shallow terrace into the slope of Graven Hill. A single sherd of Roman pottery was recovered from the surface in Trench 63. Trench 64 was targeted on the shallow linear features of probable Iron Age date recorded within Trenches 12 and 13 from the 2015 evaluation. Excavation of an area measuring 25m by 25m revealed a more extensive arrangement of shallow curvilinear ditches and larger linear ditches dating from the late Iron Age.

Item Type:Client Report
Subjects:Geographical Areas > English Counties > Oxfordshire
Period > UK Periods > Iron Age 800 BC - 43 AD
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Period > UK Periods > Neolithic 4000 - 2200 BC
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
ID Code:3025
Deposited By: Scott
Deposited On:23 Nov 2016 09:47
Last Modified:23 Nov 2016 09:48

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