I am Becky Peacock and I am a Project Officer at Oxford Archaeology. I worked as the Outreach Officer for the Westgate Project in Oxford during 2015 and 2016. The Westgate Project is a commercial redevelopment of a large shopping complex in the centre of Oxford, with clients Westgate Oxford Alliance and contractors Laing O’Rourke. The excavations are the largest ever undertaken in Oxford city. The Westgate project won the Best Archaeological Project award at the British Archaeological Awards in July this year and the outreach programme which included a Pop Up Museum, schools programme, site open days, lecture series and community collaborations were contributing factors to this achievement. It was through working on this project that I have become more involved with outreach events at our Oxford office.
This week I have been unpacking the displays from our very successful event in Thame for the Festival of Archaeology. We had 400 visitors come and visit us and our Joint Venture partners Cotswold Archaeology, who we excavated a large site in Thame with in 2015. It was here we found a previously unknown neolithic Causewayed Enclosure and some fantastic early neolithic pottery. We also found evidence for iron age weaving. A decorated bone comb, a bone gouge for making holes in cloth or leather and a polished bone toggle, were among the finds from this period on display. Alongside these we also had evidence for weaving from the Roman and Saxon periods. The Saxon spindle whorls and a complete loom weight from the sunken featured building were a highlight. My favourite find is the bone toggle as it looks like it could have come off a duffel coat today and so much work has gone into making it.
Today I have been preparing for our next event in the middle of August. It is ‘Potty about the Romans!’ Family Day with the Museum of Oxford. Since our Westgate Pop Up Museum was hosted by them this spring, we have joined together to host this event and one for the Oxfordshire Science Festival at the end of June. It was hugely enjoyable welcoming the public to see our specialists in science and 3D modelling and environmental archaeology and to learn about the application of science in our understanding of finds. This time we will be looking at Roman life in Oxfordshire through the finds from our sites. There will be a chance to handle some objects and we will have information about some significant discoveries we have made at sites such as Gill Mill and the Bicester to Oxford Rail Improvement Scheme. I have spoken to many of our Post Excavation specialists as they see all the finds from the sites and can pick out some fantastic standout items. They also provide summary information about the finds for me as they produce the detailed report for the site publication. All our displays involve a high level of research behind the scenes so we can show finds and tell as accurate a story as possible about the site, often a long time in advance of the final analysis and publication. I have also been familiarising myself with the Roman games and activities we have in store for the families that come along on the day.
This has been my Day in Archaeology for 2016.
Becky Peacock is a Project Officer at Oxford Archaeology’s South office in Oxford. For more information about Oxford Archaeology and our award-winning project at Westgate Oxford, visit our website: http://oxfordarchaeology.com/community/westgate-excavations