Iron Age and Roman Wychwood

Iron Age and Roman Wychwood

by Tim Copeland

One day, during the Roman occupation of Britain, two people carved their names on a set of clay pipes. The pipes were found in the excavation of Shakenoak Roman villa (near Witney, Oxfordshire) in the 1960s; and though damaged, a male name, Satavacus, was quite clear. The second name had been truncated by a break but reads Bellicia and belongs to a female.

Besides possibly identifying a lover and his lass, both names are from the pre-Roman Iron Age tradition, even though the pipes were found in the debris of a building that was dated to almost two hundred years after the Roman invasion. The names on the pipes demonstrate continuity between the people living in Wychwood before the arrival of the Romans and those who worked the land for centuries after that event.

Today's roads and parish boundaries, the location of villages and the distribution of vegetation have evolved in part from decisions taken to meet the needs of inhabitants in the period 800 BC ­ 400 AD.

This profusely illustrated book is about the evidence in Wychwood for the Iron Age and Roman periods, including hill forts, Akeman Street, Grim's Ditch, Roman villas, religious sites, and much besides. It also chronicles the evolution of our understanding of the period by examining the records and conclusions of archaeologists over the centuries, showing how their findings were shaped by their historical and cultural assumptions and the scientific tools at their disposal.

The chapter on the late Iron Age and Grim's Ditch is available as a free download at the foot of this page.

Includes a gazeteer of Iron Age and Roman remains that can be seen and accessed from public land, and a great deal of information for people visiting West Oxfordshire and the sites described.

Tim Copeland is Head of the International Centre for Heritage Education at the University of Gloucester, Chairman of the Council of Europe's Cultural Heritage Expert Committee and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. Recent and forthcoming publications include work for the Council of Europe, the National Trust, the Royal Fine Art Commission and English Heritage.

£12 pbk 144pp, with b/w photographs, maps and line drawings

Jon Carpenter,
16 Nov 2009, 10:00