Medieval objects and a 4,000 year old Bronze Age arrowhead have been uncovered in East Oxford after five weeks of digging and research by archaeologists, local volunteers and university staff.
Archeox (the Archaeology of East Oxford Community Project) has been excavating a medieval nunnery at Minchery Paddock, between Blackbird Leys and Littlemore. Hundreds of people have participated in the dig or visited an open day and several local school groups have been involved. The project now has well over 500 registered volunteers. This particular excavation at Minchery Paddock concluded this weekend.
On Friday 9 November 2012, Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton visited the site to meet the team and inspect the objects.
Project director Dr David Griffiths of Oxford University's Department for Continuing Education said: 'The area we are exploring is part of the site occupied by Littlemore Priory, a nunnery established in around AD1110, which was closed down by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525 after accusations were made that the nuns were involved in scandalous practices. Part of the nunnery buildings (dating to the 1400s) later became a farmhouse and still stand as the Priory Pub (a well-known hostelry next to the Kassam/Oxford United Football Stadium).
'Our excavations have revealed stone walls, floors and hearths which show that the priory buildings were once much more extensive, and included domestic, kitchen and workshop areas. We have also found evidence of peat layers which tell the story of the landscape over a much longer timescale.
'Finds dating to the period of the nunnery include a large amount of medieval pottery (some of fine quality) and decorated glazed floor-tiles showing heraldic designs such as birds and griffins. Roman pottery and tile suggests that the site was in use in earlier times.
'Perhaps the most exciting and surprising finds have been a small group of prehistoric worked flints, including a beautiful Bronze Age arrowhead dating to around 4000 years ago.'
Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, said: ‘Archeox is a wonderful project which has involved hundreds of interested volunteers from around Oxford, schoolchildren, and Oxford University archaeologists.
'It is so important that the University and the local community maintain an active and close relationship, and the fascinating discoveries of the excavation are testament to what can happen when town and gown work together.’
Archeox is hosted by Oxford University Department for Continuing Education and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.