OA South's excavations at Westgate Oxford, which were recently recognised by the British Archaeological Awards as ‘Best Archaeological Project 2016’, saw up to 50 dedicated archaeologists working on site in often challenging conditions to reveal the extensive remains of the medieval Greyfriars friary (AD 1244-1538) during the construction of a new shopping centre.
The excavations, which began in January 2015, uncovered the stone foundations of the friary precinct, including parts of the precinct wall, cloister, dormitories, reredorter, kitchens, buttery, servery, and a refectory. Finds include up to 1,000 waterlogged timbers and hundreds of small finds, such as styli and bookclasps, in addition to several wooden and leather items. Part of a rare medieval tiled pavement was also discovered.
A particularly impressive aspect of this project has been the level of public engagement, which saw over 2,500 people attend the open days in July and September 2015, with an additional 7,500 visitors to the three locations of the ever-evolving pop-up museum. A series of six free public talks given on different aspects of the site and its environs were also very well attended.
This project represents a fine example of ‘best practice’ and collaborative working between the client (Oxford Westgate Alliance), the principal contractor (Laing O’Rourke and Expanded) and Oxford Archaeology, as well as other stakeholders.
For more information about the project, click the links on the drop-down menu on the left.