Oxford Archaeology

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Oxford Archaeology Limited
Type Charity, Private company limited by guarantee
Industry Archaeology
Cultural Heritage
Founded 1973 (1973)
Headquarters Oxford, UK
Number of locations Oxford, Lancaster, Cambridge (As of June 2011)
Employees 250 (2014)[1]
Website www.oxfordarchaeology.com

Oxford Archaeology (OA, trading name of Oxford Archaeology Limited) is one of the largest and longest-established independent archaeology and heritage practices in Europe, operating from three permanent offices in Oxford, Lancaster and Cambridge, and working across the UK. OA is a registered Archaeological Organisation (RAO) with the Institute for Archaeologists (IFA), and carries out commercial archaeological fieldwork in advance of development as well as a range of other heritage related services. Oxford Archaeology primarily operates in the UK, but has also carried out contracts around the world, including Sudan, Qatar, Central Asia, China and the Caribbean.

The registered head office is in Osney Mead, Oxford, southern England; this address is also the base for OA South. Other offices are OA North in Lancaster, northern England, OA East in Bar Hill, Cambridgeshire, eastern England.

Oxford Archaeology South (OAS)[edit]

In the late 1960s the recently created Oxford City and County Museum led the archaeological response to a development boom in Oxfordshire. However, the museum lacked the resources to tackle the rescue crisis alone. The museum's answer was to form independent excavation committees in response to specific development threats, starting in Oxford in 1967. These committees were registered charities with public benefit at the heart of their purpose. They employed short term contract staff, supplemented by volunteer diggers.

Soon a number of committees were operating in what was to become the new county. These committees tended to have the same members governing them, drawn from Central and Local Government, Oxford University and local archaeological societies. They also competed for the same funds. A consensus rapidly emerged that this duplication was wasteful and that all the committees should pool their resources to provide a county-wide service for archaeological research, using the opportunities presented by development. Thus the Oxfordshire Archaeological Committee and its executive arm, the Oxfordshire Archaeological Unit came into existence in 1973.

In the following years, the company adjusted flexibly to changing conditions, and expanded outside the county (hence the change in name to the Oxford Archaeological Unit). It also became a limited liability company, it adjusted to new funding streams, and it embraced new methods and technologies.

Recent notable excavations include the excavation of prehistoric flint scatters and an Iron Age bloomery at the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road,[2] and a WWI mass grave of Australian soldiers at Fromelles.[3]

Oxford Archaeology North (OAN)[edit]

The Lancaster University Archaeological Unit (LUAU), together with its staff, became the northern office of Oxford Archaeology on 1 November 2001. This followed a decision that the needs of a professional archaeological unit could no longer be best served by its continuance within the university. OAN continued the wide range of work undertaken in the past, from desk-based assessments, through evaluation and rapid surveys of both the landscape and the built and industrial environments, to major excavations; particular specialisations are upland survey and the excavation and recording of standing industrial remains.

Since the merger, OAN has worked on a great number of important sites across northern England, and brought most of them to publication. These include the infrastructure projects on the A1(M), and the Carlisle North Development Route (CNDR) [4] with its amazing waterlogged prehistoric remains and lithic assemblage. Other important sites include the viking cemetery at Cumwhitton [5] and excavations at Furness Abbey [6] where a high-ranking clergyman was identified. Since the North was the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, the unit investigates everything from factories and mills to miner's houses.

Oxford Archaeology East (OAE)[edit]

In 2008, Cambridgeshire County Council's Field Unit, CAMARC joined with Oxford Archaeology as its third regional centre. CAMARC itself was a recently revised name for an organisation that had been given a variety of titles over more than 20 years of existence. Its lineage started in the early 1980s with Manpower Services Commission-funded community programme projects, and it continued to carry out developer-funded work in the mid-80s as the 'Archaeological Field Unit'.

OAEast continues to deliver major programmes for infrastructure projects and for smaller-scale developments in both rural and urban areas. Our large rural landscape projects include complex Middle Bronze Age field systems, enclosures and settlements at Clay Farm, Trumpington. Recent urban schemes include the Itter Cresent Roman villa excavation in Peterborough [7] and excavations of Victorian and Medieval settlement relating to Stourbridge Fair at Harvest Way, Newmarket Road, Cambridge.[8]

Charitable Aims and Outreach[edit]

A registered charitable trust[9] with educational aims, OA has various outreach and community archaeology projects running alongside its commercial work. All three offices engage in outreach and public engagement, with a particular focus at Oxford Archaeology East. Recent highlights include the volunteer dig at Maryport Roman settlement [10] and the Jigsaw Cambridgeshire project which trains and supports local archaeology societies across Cambridgeshire [11]

Oxford Archaeology are supporters of the concept of "open archaeology",[clarification needed]. As part their commitment to open archaeology OA puts its grey literature online[12] and making available internally developed software on the Launchpad site under the umbrella project Open Archaeology.[13]

OA Digital[edit]

In 2008 OA started to offer services in the digital arena, using internally developed skills to provide stuff particularly in the GIS and web areas, under the brand name OA Digital.

Numbers of employees vary due to the project-based nature of the work, but in 2009 OA employed over 400 people. Turnover for the financial year ending March 2009 was over £11.5m,[14] showing an annual growth of over 10%.[15] For a short time, OA had French offices in Mauguio (OA Méditerranée), southern France and Caen (OA Grand Ouest), northern France.[16]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 51°44′51″N 1°16′35″W / 51.7476°N 1.2764°W / 51.7476; -1.2764