Last Update: 14th February 2020
Local Archival Archaeology Information Sources
Chris has been looking into the many hundreds of unpublished excavation reports listed in the archives of Oxford Archaeology (OA) and its predecessors, some going back to the early 1970s.
These cover Oxfordshire and other locations within the UK where OA was called in to evaluate archaeological potential in advance of construction work, or even the simple moving of electricity poles.
Chris was, and still is, primarily looking for items concerning Horspath and neighbouring parishes, but that task will take many months if not years to complete, as many reports were written by professional archaeologist in their own jargon and need further contextual interpretation to be understandable in our lay terms!
So we thought we would provide our readers with a link to those same archives in order that they may browse the reports themselves. A number of these cover excavations in advance of development work at the Rover/BMC & later BMW plants. And one even covers a small excavation behind St. Giles' Church that unearthed an oyster shell about 18 inches down. (Curiously, the Roman gentry were very fond of oysters and even had lead seawater tanks on wheels pulled by oxen along the main Roman roads to keep the oysters fresh on their journey from the coast. After their occupation ended around AD410, I cannot imagine such delicacies ended up in Horspath until the Victorian railways reached these parts. A mystery!)
Here is the link:-Oxford Archaeology Archives
There is another major source for archaeology in Oxfordshire, that of the annual journal Oxonensia which began publication in 1936. Its online and searchable database is:-Oxonensia Journal
Shotover: The life of an Oxfordshire Hill.
Two of our group, Ivan Wright and Jacqueline Wright, are the editors of this book and have written some of the text.
"Shotover Wildlife's attractive new book explores the rich wildlife of Shotover Hill, covering all of the main species groups including flowers, trees, birds, butterflies, bees, beetles and mammals. Written by specialists in non-technical language, the book also places the past 20 years of species surveying and research by Shotover Wildlife in the context of work by the naturalists of past centuries."
"The reader will gain an appreciation of the intricate mosaic of habitats across the Hill, including heath, grasslands and ancient woodland, as well as an overview of the physical geography and important fossils. The book concludes with an exploration of the future for wildlife at Shotover."The Shotover Book
The following site explains how cropmarks form and what they represent.
"Buried archaeological features can affect the rate of growth of crops planted into the soil above them. Ditches, pits and other features dug into the subsoil have, over the centuries, become filled by a variety of means. They provide a greater depth of soil than can be found in their immediate surroundings, something that can lead to enhanced growth of the crop immediately above them. Alternatively, a reduction in soil depth caused by the presence of, for example, buried wall foundations or compacted surfaces such as floors or Roman roads can inhibit growth. From above, the patterns created can be observed from visible differences in crop colour and height during various stages of the growing season."Formation of cropmarks
Ring ditches, barrows and associated enclosures, Port Meadow.
"Port Meadow and Wolvercote Common contain evidence for consecutive periods of human activity covering the Bronze Age and Iron Age. Well preserved sites of this type are rare in Britain especially where evidence for habitation, burial and farming are found in association and occasionally overlap."Port Meadow Enclosures
The British History Online site has a very good description and history of the parish of Horspath.
"The parish of Horspath stretches from the slopes of Shotover in the north across the valley of the Northfield Brook, a feeder of the Thames, to the slopes of Cuddesdon and Garsington in the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are thus mostly above the 400-ft. contour line, but along the stream which separates the parish from Cowley on the west the land is as low as 257 ft. above sea-level. The junction of its boundaries with Headington and Cowley is marked by Bullingdon Green, which was once common to Cowley and Horspath"Horspath Parish