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Historic England Research Records

Orams Arbour

Hob Uid: 230943
Location :
Hampshire
Winchester
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : SU4760029800
Summary : A series of excavations have uncovered lengths of a 1st century BC ditch indicating the the site of an Iron Age oppidum at Winchester. part of the ditch was used as an inhumation cemetery in the 4th century AD.
More information : (centred SU 47602980) The open space called Oram's Arbour, outside the western limit of the Roman walled city, has long been discussed as the possible site of a pre-Roman oppidum. The earthwork on the western side is thought to be part of its remains and recent excavations have provisionally dated the earliest phase of the feature as Belgic. The ditch was re-cut prior to 1750 when it is shown open as the 'city ditch' on Godson's plan, but it was filled in the early 1850's and now only exists as a scarp slope. Within the enclosed area a certain amount of Roman and Pre-Roman material has been found (see Map Diagram SU 42 NE 1) suggesting an early occupation of the higher ground at what must have been an important river crossing. A further ditch, provisionally dated to early Roman has been found running E-W across the enclosed area. The excavations, directed by Martin Biddle, are continuing and during 1967 the remains of an inturned entrance were found at the NW corner of the enclosed area. (1)

The sole remains of the work is a simple scarp slope some 10.0m in width and up to 2.2m in height extending for a distance of some 100.0m. along the west side of Oram's Arbour a public open space. Surveyed at 1/1250. (2)

Excavations in 1966 showed that the earthworks in Oram's Arbour were of two periods. The primary ditch was probably the defence of the Belgic oppidum which was situated some distance to the south-east near the cathedral. This compares with similar dykes at Colchester, Chichester and Prae Wood. The second period consisted of a Medieval ditch, following the primary ditch on the west but diverging from it further north. This defined the 12th century western suburb and came to be regarded as the boundary of the city liberty. (3)

Excavation in 1967 concentrated on the entrance to the Iron Age oppidum, now shown to be of the 1st century BC. The entrance, inturned at each side, was later covered over by a Roman road of the 2nd century AD. When the ditch was recut in the middle ages it was cut straight across the causeway, ignoring the entrance. The bank was levelled in 1852-3. (4)

Excavations at Castle Yard in 1970 located a large ditch running from west-to-east at a very oblique angle below the Roman defences. It was probably constructed in the 1st century BC and the fill contained Iron Age and Romano-British sherds. The ditch almost certainly forms the southern limit of the Oram's Arbour enclosure; the northern, southern and western limits are now well defined. The eastern limit may have lain along the scarp immediately east of Jewry Street. (5)

A final season of excavations in 1971 located a further 9.0m. length of the ditch beneath the Great Court of the new Assize Courts. It was confirmed that the ditch began to silt up shortly after its construction in the 1st century BC. (6)

SU 478298. A 9.0m. length of the earthwork enclosing the Iron Age settlement was excavated at Sussex Street. The ditch was about 7.5m. wide and 3.8m. deep. The ditch was used for burial in the 4th century; 22 late Roman graves were recovered. (7)

Excavations on the line of the Roman and Medieval North Wall in the Vicinity of North Gate recovered traces of an Iron Age ditch, running east-west and at least 3.0m. deep. This may be part of the defences of the Iron Age enclosure. (8-9)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : R1 FGA 29-JAN-68
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 1A
Source : Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society
Source details : (C. Hawkes)
Page(s) : 177-80
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 11, 1930
Source Number : 8
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details : (FO Grew)
Page(s) : 395-6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 11, 1980
Source Number : 9
Source : Council for British Archaeology Group 12: Newsletter
Source details :
Page(s) : 10
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : MAY, 1980
Source Number : 1B
Source : The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details : Winchester Excavations 1965 (M. Biddle)
Page(s) : 311-12
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 46, 1966
Source Number : 1C
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Martin Biddle oral inf. to 1.
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 FGA 01-MAY-68
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Excavations at Winchester, 1966; fifth interim report
Source details :
Page(s) : 254-9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 47
Source Number : 4
Source : Excavations at Winchester 1967: sixth interim report
Source details :
Page(s) : 251-7
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 48
Source Number : 5
Source : Excavations at Winchester, 1969: eighth interim report
Source details :
Page(s) : 278-81
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 50
Source Number : 6
Source : Excavations at Winchester, 1971: tenth and final interim report, part 1
Source details :
Page(s) : 98-100
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 55
Source Number : 7
Source : Archaeological excavations
Source details : (K Qualmann)
Page(s) : 60-1
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1975

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Enclosed Settlement
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 399
Monument Start Date : 300
Monument Type : Inhumation Cemetery
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SU 42 NE 121
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SU 42 NE 120
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1968-05-01
End Date : 1968-05-01
Associated Activities : Primary, ST PAUL'S HOSPITAL
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ORAM'S ARBOUR PARK
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ORAM'S ARBOUR, ST PAULS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2004-12-31