OA Library

Under The Oracle. Excavations at the Oracle Shopping Centre site 1996-8: the medieval and post-medieval urban development of the Kennet floodplain Reading.

Ford, Ben and Poore, Daniel and Shaffrey, Ruth and Wilkinson, David and Allen, Leigh and Allen, Martin and Allen, Steven and Blinkhorn, Paul and Brown, Duncan H and Cropper, Cecily and Dils, Joan and Dodd, Anne and Doonan, Roger and Higgins, David and Miles, Dan and Mould, Quita and Pelling, Ruth and Preston, Jamie and Roe, Fiona and Scott, Ian and Simons, Edmund and Smith, Terence Paul and Steane, Kate and Sykes, Naomi and Thomson, Robert and Walton-Rogers, Penelope and Vince, Alan and Willmott, Hugh and Winder, Jessica and Wyles, Sarah F and Lucas, Sarah and Collett, Lesley and Higgins, David and Lorimer, Peter and Martin, Lucy (2013) Under The Oracle. Excavations at the Oracle Shopping Centre site 1996-8: the medieval and post-medieval urban development of the Kennet floodplain Reading. Project Report. Published for Oxford Archaeology by Oxford University School of Archaeology as part of the Thames Valley Landscapes Monograph series.

[thumbnail of 1_TVL36_REOR98-99_Front cover.pdf] PDF
1_TVL36_REOR98-99_Front cover.pdf

Download (16MB)
[thumbnail of 2_TVL36_REOR98-99_Prelims.pdf] PDF

Download (173kB)
[thumbnail of 3_TVL36_REOR98-99_Chapter01.pdf] PDF

Download (12MB)
[thumbnail of 4_TVL36_REOR98-99_Chapter02.pdf] PDF

Download (33MB)
[thumbnail of 5_TVL36_REOR98-99_Chapter03.pdf] PDF

Download (33MB)
[thumbnail of 6_TVL36_REOR98-99_Chapter04.pdf] PDF

Download (66kB)
[thumbnail of 7_TVL36_REOR98-99_Chapter05.pdf] PDF

Download (17MB)
[thumbnail of 8_TVL36_REOR98-99_Chapter06.pdf] PDF

Download (990kB)
[thumbnail of 9_TVL36_REOR98-99_Bibliography-Index.pdf] PDF

Download (108kB)
[thumbnail of 10_TVL36_REOR98-99_Back cover.pdf] PDF
10_TVL36_REOR98-99_Back cover.pdf

Download (4MB)
[thumbnail of 0_TVL36_REOR98-99_Complete_monograph.pdf] PDF

Download (125MB)


Between April 1996 and August 1998, Oxford
Archaeology carried out extensive archaeological
investigations in advance of the development of the
Oracle shopping and leisure complex in central
Reading. The area investigated covered some 8
hectares on the floodplain of the river Kennet,
immediately south of the town centre, with five key
excavations targeted on the earliest known historic
buildings, water channels and mills.
A long sequence of development at the edge of
the floodplain was identified at site 29, starting with
timber buildings that may have formed part of the
minster of St Mary’s during the late 11th and early
12th centuries. During the 12th century an elaborate
stone building containing many large hearths and
ovens was built on the site, and greatly extended
during the later 13th century. It is suggested that
this may have been a cookshop belonging to
Reading Abbey. During the 16th century the site
was in use as a tannery, and the excavations located
numerous rows of tanning pits and vats and associated
structures. The Oracle workhouse was
constructed on the site in the early 17th century, and
results from the OA excavations add to existing
knowledge of the 200-year development and use of
this building from documentary and cartographic
Site 150 investigated the historically attested
Minster Mill. Remains from grain and malt
processing of probable 12th-century date were
excavated, and evidence was recorded for management
of the Minster Mill Stream. The most extensive
remains found were associated with the rebuilding
of the mill in timber and brick during the 17th and
18th centuries. The development of the floodplain
for craftworking and industry was studied at site
12, where active management of the river channels
accompanied the construction and use of a
sequence of waterfronts, structures for industrial
processes and tanning pits. Following extensive
land reclamation during the 16th century, the
building later known as the Yield Hall was
constructed on the site. The excavations traced the
development of this house in detail over a period of
mixed domestic and craft use during the 17th and
18th centuries, until its incorporation in Wilders
Iron Foundry during the 19th. Excavations at site
101 revealed the progressive southwards migration,
management and varied uses of the historically
attested channel known as the Back Brook.
South of the Kennet site 300 investigated the
historically attested St Giles, or Town, mill.
Important remains of the medieval mill were recovered,
including a complete pitwheel of 12th-century
type, along with other early elements of the mill’s
machinery. Extensive remains survived of a timber
mill frame installed in the early 14th century and
the timber revetments installed and repaired
throughout the medieval period in the channels
carrying water to and from the mill itself.
Substantial remains were also recovered from major
extensions of the mill during the 18th century and
its conversion to steam power during the 19th.
A programme of dendrochronological dating was
undertaken on numerous timbers recovered from
the waterlogged conditions of the site, allowing
unusually precise dating of certain structural
elements. Amongst large collections of finds, those
of particular interest include the medieval pottery,
shoes, leatherworking and cobbling waste, glass
vessels and a small number of fragments of textile.
In addition, the recovery of the largest group of clay
pipes yet found in Reading has allowed the development
of a bowl-form typology for the town.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Berkshire
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology South > Fieldwork
Depositing User: Scott
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2023 16:47
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2023 16:47
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/7239

Actions (login required)

View Item
View Item