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Foxbridge, Swindon

Dodd, Mark and Boothroyd, John Foxbridge, Swindon. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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Phase 1
Between 28th October and 8th November 2019, Oxford Archaeology
undertook a trial trench evaluation on the site of a proposed mixed
development at Foxbridge, Swindon. The works comprised the excavation of
30 trenches and form the first of three phase of evaluation undertaken within
the proposed development area. Each phase of evaluation is covered by its
own report.
The 30 trenches were located in the northern half of the proposed
development area and included five trenches targeted on geophysical
anomalies provisionally interpreted as the continuation of Durocornovium
Roman Town, a Scheduled Monument located to the north of and partially
within the site. Archaeological remains consistent with Roman roadside
activity were identified within these five trenches. It is the intention to
preserve this remains in situ and given poor ground conditions during the
works, excavation of the exposed features was minimally intrusive. The
remains comprised rectilinear enclosures, pits and a couple of postholes but
no evidence for in situ structural remains was identified. The activity is
contained within a 50m wide strip that runs parallel to the Wanborough Road,
which forms the eastern site boundary, and is delimited to the west by a large
enclosure ditch. Features of potential archaeological origin investigated to the
west of this ditch were demonstrated to be of geological origin.
The finds assemblage comprises 396 sherds of Roman pottery, ceramic
building material, glass and metal objects, worked flint, animal bone and
stone. The assemblage suggests the activity within the site occurred
predominately in the middle Roman period with none of the contexts dated
to earlier than the 2nd century. The pottery assemblage, however, does
contain sherds dating to the late Roman period suggesting activity within the
site continued into the 4th and early 5th centuries. This is supported by the
metalwork assemblage which includes six late Roman coins. Although no
obvious in situ building remains were present, several fragments of roof tile
and unworked limestone were recovered and suggest the presence of
structures within the vicinity. Similarly, the recovery of metal working slag
suggests industrial activities occurred within the area, but no evidence was
recorded within the trenches. A single inhumation was identified, and
although heavily disturbed it is believed to be that of an adult male. A buried
soil of unknown origin was recorded sealing the archaeological features. The
origin of this deposit is uncertain, but it is suspected to represent a former
land surface or occupation layer.
No archaeological features or deposit were recorded in the trenches located
beyond those targeting the roadside activity.
Phase 2
August 2020, Oxford Archaeology undertook a trial-trench evaluation at the
site of a proposed mixed development. The works comprised the excavation
of seven trenches within the scheduled area of the Roman town of
Although evenly distributed across the site, several of the trenches were
positioned to investigate anomalies identified by geophysical survey. The
correlation between geophysical anomalies and the features exposed during
the evaluation was poor. Despite this, the evaluation identified a
concentration of middle and late Roman activity.
Wanbrough Road, which forms the eastern site boundary, follows the route of
the Roman road of Ermin street. The distribution of features within the site
suggests a focus of activity along the roadside. Beam slots indicate the
presence of a wooden structure dating to the middle Roman period, and three
stone walls form a multi-phased, multi-roomed building of unknown function.
Ditches forming a rectangular enclosure and possible trackways were also
present. Pottery recovered from the features suggest they originated in the
middle Roman period. Many of the ditches appear to have been maintained
or re-established, and artefactual evidence suggest several continued in use
into the late Roman period.
Further away from Ermin street, in the south-west corner of the site, the
remains of a small cemetery were exposed. Eight inhumation burials were
identified and extending beyond the limits of one of the trenches. The extent
of the cemetery is unknown, but the southern limit appears to be defined by
a small gully.
The finds assemblage comprised 827 sherds of Roman pottery, the majority of
which dates to the late Roman period, as well as glass, metal objects including
coins, and animal bones.
Phase 3
In late September and early October 2020, Oxford Archaeology undertook a
trial-trench evaluation at Foxbridge, Swindon, the site of a proposed mixed
development. The works comprised the excavation of 29 trenches and is the
third phase of evaluation undertaken within the site.
Due to prolong heavy rain the trenches became waterlogged during the
evaluation. While it is not considered that these conditions hindered the
identification of archaeological remains within the trenches, it did impact the
level of hand excavation that could be undertaken and therefore the
characterisation of several features identified.
Archaeological features dating from the late Mesolithic/early Neolithic period
through to the post-medieval period were recorded across the area. The
archaeological features were distributed across the site and predominately
comprised ditches and a number of pits.
The trenches were positioned to ground truth the results of a geophysical
survey. The correlation between the results of the survey and the trial
trenching is mixed. Geophysical anomalies interpreted as ‘positive linear
archaeology’ were all present and were dated to the medieval and postmedieval
periods. However, the correlation between anomalies interpreted
with less certainty was moderately poor. While some archaeological features
were identified that correlated with the anomalies, there was no evidence for
others. Several archaeological features were also identified during the
evaluation that were not identified by the geophysical survey.
The earliest activity recorded comprises an assemblage of struck flint from an
alluvial deposit in the centre of the site. The assemblage includes blade cores
and debitage indicative of blade production dating to the early Neolithic
period, although a late Mesolithic date is possible. Although the assemblage
was not recovered from an in situ scatter, the struck flint is fresh and is unlikely
to have been moved far from the original point of deposition, suggesting flint
production within the site.
A small prehistoric enclosure was also identified. The absence of internal
features suggest it served an agricultural function as a stock enclosure, rather
than being indicative of domestic/settlement activity. Pottery recovered from
the feature has been dated to the mid to late Bronze Age and the early to
middle Iron Age. Prehistoric pottery was also recovered from a number of
Previous evaluations within the Foxbridge site have identified significant
activity of Roman date associated with Wanborough Roman town, which lies
to the north. Only four land management ditches of Roman date were
recorded during this phase of evaluation. Dated to the 1st and 2nd centuries,
the ditches are more likely to be associated with an early Roman farmstead located 300m to the south-west of the site than with the activity recorded
during the previous phases of evaluation within the Foxbridge site which is
predominately of middle and late Roman date. The Phase 3 area appears to
lie between the two foci of Roman activity.
The ditches dating to both the prehistoric and Roman periods represent land
management and drainage but it is not possible to define any field systems
based on their orientation and distribution.
Enclosure ditches most likely associated with a small medieval/post-medieval
farmstead were also recorded within the site.

Item Type: Client Report
Subjects: Period > UK Periods > Bronze Age 2500 - 700 BC
Period > UK Periods > Iron Age 800 BC - 43 AD
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Period > UK Periods > Mesolithic 10,000 - 4,000 BC
Period > UK Periods > Neolithic 4000 - 2200 BC
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
Geographical Areas > English Counties > Wiltshire
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology South > Fieldwork
Depositing User: Scott
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2021 09:55
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2021 09:55
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/6165

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