7th November 2013:

DP World has opened its new deep-sea container port at London Gateway in the Thames Estuary to shipping. A container vessel from South Africa loaded with fruit and wine will be the first vessel to arrive. The port, expected to receive 3.5 million containers each year, is part of one of the largest logistics parks in Europe, and Oxford Archaeology has played an important role in its development.

Oxford Archaeology helped DP World through the planning and design stages of the port and logistics park development, and subsequently undertook a major programme of archaeological surveys, evaluation and excavation ahead of construction. The work is ongoing and recently included investigation of an access road and stages of archaeological monitoring.

In one of the most ambitious pieces of fieldwork, OA excavated the site of a newly created ecological habitat adjacent to the port facilities. The 44-hectare site, Stanford Wharf Nature Reserve, was designed by DP World to mitigate the impact of the development and protect wildlife and the environment. Excavation revealed significant evidence for Iron Age and Roman-period salt production dating between 400BC and AD400.

Today, DP World's port and logistics park offers a deep-sea port facility for international commercial shipping, and a hub for the storage and distribution of goods. In Roman times, Stanford Wharf Nature Reserve similarly served a significant economic role, and its products – salt and salt-related products such as fish sauce – were distributed by river, sea and across land to towns and forts in the region, and perhaps even beyond.

The exciting results of OA's work at Stanford Wharf have been published in a book, London Gateway: Iron Age and Roman salt making in the Thames Estuary. Click here to buy the book from Oxbow Books.

Supporting data and specialist analysis reports can be downloaded from OA's digital library. Click here to go to the OA Library.