High-resolution gradiometer survey of the entire Bagendon oppidum landscape has been conducted between 2008-2015. This has revealed numerous new elements to the complex, including previously unrecognised evidence for significant dense occupation in the Bagendon valley; areas of occupation, including earlier occupation beneath Cutham dyke; and the identification of two new ‘banjo’ style enclosures. By the end of 2015 the area encompassed by the earthwork complex will have been surveyed: approximately 200ha. This work is indicating that the oppidum had a much more complex history than previously considered and its development may have been somewhat different to so-called ‘territorial oppida’ elsewhere (Moore 2012; 2014).
Excavations 2012-14: Middle Iron Age antecedents? Scrubditch and Cutham enclosures
The discovery of two previously unknown ‘banjo’ style enclosures in the complex has the potential to provide information on the chronological development and role of the broader Bagendon complex. Excavation at these two enclosures provides the first conclusive evidence of Middle Iron Age activity within the complex, indicating that the area was not devoid of activity prior to the heyday of the oppidum in the 1st century AD. Assessment of the chronological evidence from both sites, including C14 dating, is currently being undertaken to examine whether these enclosures were occupied immediately prior to occupation in the valley. However, the lack of much in the way of 1st century AD ceramics from both enclosures suggests, at present, some hiatus between their occupation and that in the valley.
The unusual morphological form of both enclosures raises important questions as to their role. Their similarity to banjo enclosures may imply roles for the division of livestock at certain times of year, although, similar to banjo enclosures, evidence of habitation within them suggests this was not their only role. The similar sequence of activities at both enclosures and largely similar dating evidence indicates they were probably contemporary and part of a larger complex of sites. There is tentative evidence from their morphological form and faunal assemblages that these enclosures had a particular agricultural role, perhaps seasonally used, with their location on the interface between very different agricultural and settlement landscapes (the Upper Thames Valley and Cotswold hills) making them ideal to access and being access by wide range of different farming communities. Further analysis aims as providing some answers to these important issues.
Excavations 2015: ‘Roman’ activity at Bagendon
Previous investigations in the Bagendon valley, by Clifford (1954-56) and Trow/Reece (1979-1981), indicated that the area of Late Iron Age activity was occupied only for a short period in the 1st century AD and was abandoned by c. AD60. Continuity from the Late Iron Age phase in to the Roman period is well known further up the valley at ‘Ditches’, where an exceptionally early villa was constructed in the third-quarter of the 1st century AD. But what of activity at Bagendon itself?
Indications from our geophysical survey and LIDAR suggested the presence of rectangular stone structures in relatively close proximity to the area examined by Clifford and Trow/Reece. This season aimed at determining what these represented. Were they Roman buildings? If so, what date and function did they have, and how might they relate to the occupation evidence from the mid-1st century AD? Up-to-date results on these investigations can be found on our Blog and Facebook page.