OA completed a series of evaluations and excavations as part of Bicester to Oxford Collaboration’s upgrade from a single track operating between Bicester and Oxford to a dual line providing a new fast link between Oxford and London Marylebone.

At Holts Farm, a previously unknown Iron Age and Roman settlement was identified, although the earliest phase may be a segmented ring ditch of possible late Bronze Age origin. Remarkably, a well-preserved landscape of medieval ridge and furrow appears to have been partly influenced by the arrangement of prehistoric enclosures. In another area close to Holts Farm, staff uncovered a number of features, one of which, a ditch, contained metalworking debris and fragments of a crucible, indicating industrial activity, which was dated by pottery to the middle Iron Age.

One of the largest excavations was at the site of the Langford Lane diversion. This skirts the southern boundary of the scheduled monument area of Alchester Roman town. The excavation area provided a transect across the full width of the extramural area to the south of the town centred on the Alchester to Dorchester-on-Thames Roman road.

The project is now in the early stages of post-excavation, and further insights are expected. Meanwhile, the first Chiltern Railways passenger train ran at the end of October 2015 and now passengers are benefitting from faster travel between Oxford and London via Bicester.