We have produced a series of documents aimed at improving access to information on Oxford's rich archaeological and built heritage. This work has been funded by English Heritage and forms part of a national project to help enable the further appreciation and active management of England's major historic towns. The project includes the following components:
- Archaeological resource assessment
- Archaeological research agenda
- Historic Urban Character Statements for Oxford's historic core
- Historic Landscape Characterisation
- Oxford Archaeological Action Plan
Archaeological resource assessment
These documents provide a point in time summary of the available archaeological evidence for the city by historic period. The reports summarise the information collated on the Urban Archaeological Database, the County Historic Environment Record and selected information from published and unpublished archaeological reports (known as grey literature because the information in them has not always been made more widely accessible). The assessments should be read in conjunction with the wider regional assessments produced as part of the Solent Thames Research Framework, which can be viewed on the Oxford Archaeology website.
The reports can be downloaded as PDF files: Oxford Archaeological Resource Assessment
Archaeological research agenda
These documents set out the questions that we might want surviving archaeological remains to answer. They range from very specific questions to more general ones questions. For example when in the Middle to Late Saxon period did urban settlement develop at Oxford? Or can we better understand the role of women and children in medieval society? The questions are divided nine separate time periods (from prehistoric through to modern) and are related to broad zones of archaeological potential across the city based on major geological variations (e.g. the gravel terraces, the river floodplains and the limestone and sand on the higher ground to the south and east of Oxford). The research questions are intended to help inform commercially driven archaeological investigation and have a wider relevance for community and academic led investigations.
The agendas should be read in conjunction with the wider regional research agenda produced as part of the Solent Thames Research Framework, which can be viewed on the Oxford Archaeology website.
The reports can be downloaded as PDF files: Archaeological research agenda
Historic Urban Character Statements for Oxford's historic core
The historic core of Oxford has been subject to a characterisation study. The historic core can be defined as the extent of the post-medieval town before its rapid expansion in the 19th century. The study involved using a digital map and related database to record information about building types, land-use and plot form. Using this information the historic core was divided into thirteen broad zones and forty-four separate 'character areas'.
Short summary statements have been produced to provide an introduction to the heritage interest of each area. These are designed to help members of the public, developers and planners gain rapid access to information about Oxford's rich and complex built and below ground heritage. To download these reports please visit our Historic Urban Character Areas page.
Historic Landscape Characterisation
This study involves the use of digital maps to record changes in landscape character since the development of more accurate scaled maps in the later 19th century. Historic Landscape Characterisation typically considers aspects of built environment and the natural and as shaped by human activity, for example types and forms of enclosed fields or changing patterns of industrial or residential development.
The completion of Historic Landscape Characterisation for Oxford compliments the programme of HLC mapping currently being undertaken for the remainder of the county. For more information please visit the Oxford Historic Landscape Characterisation page.
Oxford Archaeological Action Plan
The 2013-18 Archaeological Action Plan for Oxford remains relevant and provides a useful overview of the city's historical development and guide to how to approach sites with archaeological potential within the city.
We have produced an Archaeological Action Plan for Oxford that provides an overview of the city's historical development, highlights some exciting recent archaeological discoveries and sets out a six year action plan for service delivery.
The action plan can be downloaded in pdf format: Oxford Archaeological Action Plan 2018