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BRITARCH-NEWS  October 2003

BRITARCH-NEWS October 2003

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Subject:

Parishes Against Gravel Extraction press release re archaeology

From:

Jonathan Bateman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Jonathan Bateman <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 15 Oct 2003 13:24:23 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (96 lines)

From: Mike Heyworth 
Sent: 15 October 2003 13:23

Parishes Against Gravel Extraction (PAGE)

created by the parish councils of Benson, Berinsfield, Berrick Salome,
Chalgrove, Dorchester, Drayton St. Leonard, Newington, Stadhampton,
Warborough

6 October 2003

PRESS RELEASE

SIGNIFICANT ROMANO-BRITISH SETTLEMENT REVEALED BETWEEN BENSON AND
WARBOROUGH


Archaeologists and local volunteers have revealed a significant area of
Romano-British settlement between Warborough, Benson and Berrick Salome
on land threatened by sand and gravel extraction in the Oxfordshire
County Council Draft Structure Plan.

Over 30 people undertook a systematic fieldwalk over the weekend of 5/6
October under the direction of archaeologist, Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, and
other colleagues.

The fieldwork was commissioned by PAGE (Parishes Against Gravel
Extraction) as part of a series of technical studies highlighting the
unsuitability of the Stadhampton-Berinsfield-Warborough-Benson area for
sand and gravel extraction.

Lorraine Lindsay-Gale commented:

"The southern part of the field between Warborough and Benson nearer the
McDonalds roundabout is already protected as an area of Scheduled
Ancient Monuments including neolithic long barrows and a Romano-British
settlement.  As a result of our fieldwalk we have been able to show that
the Romano-British settlement in particular was extensive and continued
right up to the fields at the back of Warborough Green.  Taken with the
evidence obtained from the excavations earlier in the year a few hundred
metres to the east when the Transco pipe-line went through, this was
clearly an area of considerable activity throughout the Romano-British
period."

Dating evidence from the fieldwalk has shown that the site was certainly
occupied into the 4th. century AD.  A large quantity of Roman roof and
floor tiles were found across a wide area indicating the presence of one
or more buildings.  This was accompanied by a range of Roman pottery
including some prestige Samian ware.

Other material confirmed the presence of activity in the Bronze and Iron
Ages.

Dr. John Howell, PAGE chairman, and himself a former research fellow in
prehistoric archaeology at the University of LIverpool, said:

"Earlier in the year we saw Transco making a major and expensive detour
in the route of their pipe-line across this area to avoid the
archaeology - it was so important.  Yet only a few months later,
Oxfordshire County Council believes it can simply dig it up."

The archaeology in this section of the Middle Thames gravels has been
described as without parallel in North-West Europe for the richness and
diversity of its prehistoric landscape.  The area between Dorchester and
Benson and Dorchester and Drayton St.Leonard has been likened in
importance to the area around Avebury in Wiltshire, a World Heritage
Site.  Recent excavations have confirmed the significance of the area
and the uniqueness of its archaeological record over the past 6,000
years.

A further fieldwalk will take place over the weekend of 11/12 October
within the area.  Print and broadcast journalists are welcome to attend.
The archaeologists and volunteers will be on hand for interview.  There
will be access for filming and recording.

For further information contact:
John Howell 07889 646845
Paul Booker 07906 308480
Maggie Pullen 07802 479586

Notes to editors

1.      PAGE was created in July by the parish councils of the nine
parishes most affected by the draft structure plan proposals of
Oxfordshire County Council to site a major new sand and gravel
extraction site in the area between
Stadhampton-Berinsfield-Warborough-Benson.  These are: Benson, Berrick
Salome, Berinsfield, Chalgrove, Dorchester, Drayton St.Leonard,
Newington, Stadhampton, Warborough.  It is also supported by local
societies such as the Bensington Society, the Dorchester Society and the
Warborough & Shillingford Society.

2.      Details on the OCC structure plan can be obtained at
http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/index/environment/environment_countryside/
landuse/structureplan/structureplanreview.htm

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