Archaeological Heritage Management in Oxford
Quite a busy week though not as busy as Leigh’s. Thursday evening we had a talk from David Radford, Oxford City Archaeologist, which was very enlightening, about the realities of practical archaeology and the restrictions involved in terms of time and money. The main point he made was that archaeological investigations, at least intrusive ones, always need to be justified and you only do what is justified. Activities which do not produce useful data are not warranted. Some of the audience were shocked that David mentioned finding mesolithic flints on the St Clement’s car park site but these were not followed up. He explained that they were not found in context on a contemporary surface and just the presence of random flints doesn’t tell you much.
David started the evening by describing recent discoveries in Oxford as a result of rescue digs (where a development is taking place there is a statutory requirement for the developers to fund an archaeological investigation before any development takes place) and progressed from the Palaeolithic to the present. Too much to go into detail here, but the highlights were the Bronze Age (and earlier, it transpires) landscape of barrows and henges which stretches from University Parks across to the Radcliffe Infirmary site and Saxon and Medieval discoveries within the old City.
Jane has asked David to send her links to the relevant sites which she will add to the website. There will be all sorts of information on useful databases. Oxford Council is committed to making heritage data available online but it takes time (& money!).
Finally David went briefly through the Heritage plan for Oxford. Local communities, including parts of East Oxford, are being asked to nominate buildings worthy of being listed on a heritage checklist. My vote would be for ‘Rivera’, Henry Taunt‘s house – currently part of a disused bus station & slowly falling to pieces. Currently it’s outside the pilot area but I hope it will be considered in due course.