Grim s Ditch, Starveall Farm, Wootton, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

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1 Grim s Ditch, Starveall Farm, Wootton, Woodstock, Oxfordshire An Archaeological Recording Action For Empire Homes by Steve Ford Thames Valley Archaeological Services Ltd Site Code SFW06/118 November 2006

2 Summary Site name: Grim s Ditch, Starveall Farm, Wootton, Woodstock, Oxfordshire Grid reference: SP Site activity: Recording Action Date and duration of project: 16th October 2006 Project manager: Steve Ford Site supervisor: Steve Ford Site code: SFW 06/118 Summary of results: A small section of the Scheduled Ancient Monument (Grim s Ditch) was recorded. No dating evidence was recovered. Monuments identified: Ditch Location and reference of archive: The archive is presently held at Thames Valley Archaeological Services, Reading and will be deposited at Oxfordshire County Museum Service in due course. This report may be copied for bona fide research or planning purposes without the explicit permission of the copyright holder Report edited/checked by: Steve Preston i Thames Valley Archaeological Services Ltd, De Beauvoir Road, Reading RG1 5NR Tel. (0118) ; Fax (0118) ; website :

3 Introduction Grim s Ditch, Starveall Farm, Wootton, Woodstock, Oxfordshire An Archaeological Recording Action by Steve Ford Report 06/118 This report documents the results of an archaeological Recording Action carried out at Starveall Farm, Wootton, Woodstock, Oxfordshire (SP ) (Fig. 1). The work was commissioned by Mr Brendan O Brien of Empire Homes Limited, The Long Barn, Oxford Road, Old Chalford, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 5QR. The digging of a service trench for a new water pipe traversed a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SM28127/02) without scheduled monument consent and has caused slight damage to the monument. The archive is presently held at Thames Valley Archaeological Services, Reading and will be deposited at Oxfordshire County Museum in due course. Location, topography and geology The site is located on level ground on white limestone of the Cotswold Hills (BGS 1982). It lies at a height of c. 125m AOD. Archaeological background The site lies within an archaeologically rich area. Just to the north-west is Callow Hill Roman villa surrounded by a rectangular enclosure, and several round barrows, probably of Bronze Age date are also recorded. The site of Starveall Farm itself lies on the line of a component of the North Oxfordshire Grim s Ditch complex which are linear earthworks of Iron Age date and are considered to be part of defensive and territorial features, possibly surrounding an extended oppidum (a proto-urban settlement) though the focus of the occupation is not known (Miles 1986, 56). The earthworks form two concentric circuits, loosely enclosing an area of sq km with an inner set of ditches enclosing an area of 12 sq km. The earthworks appear to have been built in open country with gaps where it is likely that woodland formerly stood. Where excavated, and dating evidence has been recovered, the earthworks have been shown to be of Iron Age date. Three segments of the complex are present close to the site, generally aligned north - south and appearing to terminate at a small valley at the north (Pool Bottom) (Fig. 1). The pipe trench has traversed the central one of these ditches (Fig. 2). The earthwork is substantial and, before being levelled by cultivation, several elements 1

4 comprised a bank and ditch more than 20m across. The westernmost earthwork of the three to the north of Starveall Farm still survives as a low earthwork despite arable cultivation whereas the central section forming the site is not now visible on the ground. Objectives and methodology The purpose of the Recording Action was to record the exposed section of this component of the Grim s Ditch complex, examine the adjacent spoilheaps for finds and relate the observations to a detailed plot of aerial photographs. Results The ditch was located in the pipe trench as shown on Figure 2 and was shown to be 4.5m across and at least 1m deep with steep sides, but was not bottomed (Fig. 3). The pipe trench was only 0.6m wide making access and the photographic record difficult to produce. No finds were recovered from the ditch nor adjacent spoilheaps. No trace of a bank was observed. The ditch contained four fills variously containing a red silty clay with greater or less amounts of limestone. The upper fill (50) is likely to represent a ploughsoil of relatively recent date. Aerial photographs in the Oxfordshire Sites and Monuments Record were inspected comprising vertical photographs from the County Council collection and oblique photograph copies selected from the National Monuments Record. The western and central ditch of the three ditches were plotted by hand onto a 1:10000 base, reproduced as Figure 3. The cropmarks are well represented for the northern and central sections of the two ditches but were poorly defined, if present at all, for the southern area. The plan of the Scheduled Area implies that the two ditches actually join (Fig. 3) but this was not clearly observed on the photographs inspected. Finds No finds were recovered. Conclusion The fieldwork has recorded a section of the Scheduled Ancient Monument known as the Grim s Ditch complex damaged by the digging of a narrow water pipe trench. The full profile of the ditch was not exposed in the trench and no dating evidence was recovered. The recording was put into its local context by an inspection of aerial photographs for the site. 2

5 References BGS, 1982, British Geological Survey, 1:50000, Sheet 236, Solid and Drift Edition, Keyworth Miles, D, 1986, The Iron Age, in G Briggs, J Cook and T Rowley (eds), The Archaeology of the Oxford region, Oxford,

6 SITE SITE SP SFW06/118 Grims Ditch, Starveall Farm, Wooton, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, 2006 Archaeological Recording Figure 1. Location of site within Wooton and Oxfordshire. Reproduced from Ordnance Survey Pathfinder SP41/ at 1:12500 Ordnance Survey Licence

7 Grims Ditch, Starveall Farm, Wooton, Woodstock, Oxfordshire 2006 N Callowhill Brake Scheduled Areas Cropmarks Starveall Farm Ditch Pipe trench Wootton Wood SP m Figure 2. Detailed location of site showing cropmarks SFW06/118

8 Grims Ditch, Starveall Farm, Wooton, Woodstock, Oxfordshire 2006 W E base of pipe trench (not bottomed) 0 1m Figure 3. Section of ditch SFW06/118

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