Geophysics & Archaeological Evaluation, Oxfordshire

Bournemouth Archaeology has just completed an archaeological mitigation project for one of the UK’s largest solar PV installations, situated at Shelswell Park, near Bicester in Oxfordshire. The 15ha site will have around 18,000 solar panels and will be capable of generating enough electricity to power around 1,000 homes.

Working closely with Oxfordshire County Council Archaeological Services the project involved geophysical survey of 15ha of farmland using a magnetometer, followed by a Strip, Map and Sample evaluation project and watching brief during the installation. It’s been cold and wet and conditions have been suitably wintery for the time of year but the results have been amazing. The magnetometer survey identified a series of anomalies interpreted as Prehistoric enclosure ditches, round houses, hearths, kilns and field boundaries, as well as a trackway that may have linked two deserted medieval villages close to the site. Casual field walking identified a number of clusters of flint artefacts which complimented the geophysical survey.

Magnetometry results showing sub-surface features at the Shelswell Park site.

The results of the excavation and watching brief revealed there were two geographically separate settlements on the site, dating to the Bronze and Iron Ages. The southernmost settlement had moderately sized enclosure ditches as well as a number of post holes and pits attesting to domestic activity. Although only a small number of finds came from these features, enough pottery was recovered to enable us to date it to the Bronze Age. The Iron Age settlement covered the northern part of the site. In this area we found some substantially sized ditches, rings of post holes, gullies and three hearth pits. During investigation of these features we found some distinctly Iron Age pottery, animal bone and a hammer stone.

Drawing a ditch section on a cold and frosty morning.

Our work at Shelswell Park plays on our strengths of having one of the best equipped archaeological consultancies for geophysical survey equipment in the UK, as well as having extensive in-house capabilities encompassing heritage consultancy, archaeological mitigation project management, project design, landscape study, excavation and reporting.

Look out for future blog updates to find out more about the services Bournemouth Archaeology offers and the projects we undertake.


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