Thursday, 19 December 2013

1066 and all that

The traditional location for the Battle of Hastings - the site of Battle Abbey - has been called into question.

New research by the Time Team shows that the Battle of Hastings was not fought on the site where it was believed to have taken place. In recent years other theories have been put forward to suggest where the battle took place, but work by the Time Team has shown good arguments for a new location.

Trevor Rowley will discuss the new information in his Oxford Experience course 'William the Conqueror', which runs from  and incorporate it into the field trip to the battle site. This which will mean that Trevor's students will be amongst the first visitors to the new location.

You can read more about the search for the location of the battle here...

You can register for Trevor Rowley's 'William the Conqueror' course here... 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Landscape Archeaology: Forty Years on

Landscape Archeaology: Forty Years on
Lecturer: Trevor Rowley
6pm Friday 6 December 2013
To be held at the Rewley House Lecture Theatre, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA

The OUDCE is sponsoring an annual lecture on landscape archaeology in memory of Mick Aston, who sadly died earlier this year. Mick was tutor in local studies in the Department for Continuing Education before moving to Bristol University as Staff Tutor in Archaeology. Earlier he had made a major contribution to the archaeology of Oxfordshire through his work on the Sites and Monuments Record, then based at the City and Count Museum, Woodstock.

In this lecture Trevor will discuss the thinking behind Landscape Archaeology, a book which went on to have a significant impact on the development of field archaeology in Britain.

Download an application form...

Registration for Oxford Experience 2014 is now open!

Registration for the next Oxford Experience is now open.

You can find the full programme with links to the course descriptions here...

Friday, 16 August 2013

Oxford Experience 2014

The programme for the Oxford Experience Summer School is now online.  Registration will not begin until late September, but now is the time to start planning your courses for next summer.

You can find the programme here...

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Day of Archaeology

On Tuesday, 30 July Lorna Richardson gave an extremely interesting talk entitled “The Day of Archaeology: using Internet technology to provide a window on the profession” to the Oxford Experience summer school.

The Day of Archaeology is a project that lets archaeologists post stories about a day in their work.  The purpose is to inform the general public about the sort of work that archaeologists do.

The main web site is at:

Looking through the posts shows how varied archaeological work can be.  Here are just a few of the more unusual posts:

Lyminge Archaeological Project: Anglo-Saxons in Kent

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

It's a Boy!

Christ Church celebrates the birth of the  royal baby by flying the Royal Standard of Henry VIII

As the world now knows, The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby boy at 16.25 BST on Monday. Kensington Palace announced the news of the birth just after 20:30 BST on 22 July 2013, and the news was confirmed by Buckingham Palace, shortly afterwards.  On Tuesday, Christ Church celebrated the event by flying the Royal Standard of Henry VIII above Tom Quad.

As Christ Church was founded in  Henry VIII 1546, the college retains the right to fly the Royal Standard of its founder.

On the left the Standard of Henry VIII - on the right the current Royal Standard

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Monday, 15 July 2013

Monday, 15 July - Morris Dancing at Oxford Experience

The Charlbury Morris Side were dancing in Tom Quad this evening.  As always, the dancing, despite the heat, was superb and a great deal of fun was had by all.

At the end of the dance session, there was a general invitation for members of the audience to join in, and quite a few took part in the last dance of the Charlbury side.  The very last dance, however, was a Rapper Sword Dance which was danced by members of another Morris Side who were joined by Peter from the Charlbury side.

This ‘sword dance’ comes from the Northumberland mining country and actually uses double handled flexible blades that were once used to wipe the sweat from the pit-ponies.  It is a very complicated dance and after many elaborate contortions as the dancers move in and out of the circle of ‘swords’, it finishes with the ‘swords’ being held aloft in an interwoven pattern.

See more photos on our Facebook Site here...

You can find out more about the Charlbury Morris Side here... 

And, if you are interested in Cotswolds folk tradition and music, you can see the Morris Side at the Finstock Village Music Festival on YouTube here... 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Building a New Bleak House

Tonight (10 July) the author Lynn Shepard gave a talk about her novel “Tom All Alone’s” (American title “ The Solitary House”) which is set in the world of Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House”.

Those of you who were not lucky enough to be at the Oxford Experience to hear her might like to watch this short video in which she discusses her work and its relationship to “Bleak House”.

You can find the video here... 

Friday, 5 July 2013

Alice's Day at Christ Church

As part of the Oxford-wide Alice Day on Saturday 6th July, there will be an exhibition of poetry and artwork in the library by local schoolchildren between 9am-4pm. 

Much of the poetry was inspired by a visit to Christ Church to see the places that the real Alice would have known, followed by a workshop with former Children’s Poet Laureate, Michael Rosen, at the Story Museum.

The exhibition takes its subject from the theme for Alice Day 2013: ‘Nonsense’.  

Admission is free to families and individuals carrying an Alice Day brochure (available from the Story Museum).  

For more information about Alice-related events taking place across Oxford on Saturday 6 July, please see:

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Independence Day

Yes, it’s the Fourth of July and one of our participants at the Oxford Experience decided to dress for the occasion.

The outfit was wonderful, but her shoes were the most amazing part: one being decorated with the stars and stripes, the other with the Union Jack.

“People asked me if I had to buy two pairs to get this effect”, she says, “but they came like that!

“The real joke is that they were made in France, and I bought them in Paris!”, she commented.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Christ Church Meadows

One of the delights of being in Christ Church is that you can walk around the Meadows before the tourists are allowed in.

On a pre-breakfast walk, I saw this heron looking for his own breakfast!

Get handy with history

From left, Lorraine Lindsay-Gale from the county council’s Culture and Community Service, Nicola Blackwood MP and Debbie Dance, director of the Oxford Preservation Trust, with artefacts at Oxford Castle. Picture: OX59922 Greg Blatchford

HISTORY enthusiasts can discover Oxford’s past with a range of activities at a free archaeological day.
There will be demonstrations, hands-on activities and mini-lectures during Archaeology Day at Oxford Castle on Sunday, July 14, from 11am, organised by the Oxford Preservation Trust and Oxford Castle Unlocked.
Visitors can also find out about archaeological projects happening in the city.
Debbie Dance, director of the Oxford Preservation Trust, said: “If you have ever been interested in what is going on under the ground you should come to the castle and see first-hand.”
Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Croquet in the Masters' Garden

Croquet in the Masters' Garden

1 July

The summer weather continues and dinner in Hall was followed by croquet and sparkling wine in the Masters' Garden

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Oxford Experience 2013

Our team is waiting to welcome you!

It is the first day of this year's Oxford Experience and our team of assistants and luggage porters are waiting to welcome you.

The sun is shining and the college is looking wonderful in the sunshine.  All is ready for a wonderful programme.

We hope that you will be joining us this year, if not we hope to see you next year!

You can follow this year's Oxford Experience on this blog!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Delving into what’s under your garden

Jane Harrison, left, and Jo Robinson from Archeox. Picture: OX60066 Ed Nix

EAST Oxford residents will soon get a glimpse into what was happening in their gardens 800 years ago.
And if past finds are anything to go by the picture may not be all rosy.
Archeox, the East Oxford archaeology and history project, is carrying out two mini-excavations in Temple Cowley on Saturday and Sunday.
The team is inviting residents in Temple Road, St Christopher’s Place, Don Bosco Close, Junction Road and Crescent Road to help them uncover the secrets buried in their gardens.
Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

What makes Jane Austen the ideal banknote candidate?

Twenty-four hours after Jane Austen is tipped as the next famous woman on a Bank of England note, Sir Mervyn King says it could indeed be her.
When Charles Darwin disappears off the back of the Bank of England's £10 note, Jane Austen is a candidate to replace him. It's exactly what was speculated yesterday.
Austen is likely to make a popular choice, but how might she have won over the Bank of England?
It's the bicentenary of Pride and Prejudice, arguably her best-known novel, so getting her on a note by the end of the year would be rather appropriate.
But in a wider sense, the last two decades have been boom years for Austen acclaim.

An Introduction to the Oxford Experience

If you would like to tell your friends about the Oxford Experience, direct them to this link where they can find a short explanatory video:

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Archaeology of Christ Church

Ralph Agas' panorama of Oxford showing the outline of the foundations for Wolsey's chapel which would have completed the north side of Tom Quad

Regular attendees to the Oxford Experience may remember a few years ago when Peckwater Quad was cut about with deep trenches for new services.  Naturally, when anyone digs in an area as important as Christ Church, there has to be an archaeological investigation.

The Magazine "Current Archaeology" has just published a short article on the results of excavations that took place within Christ Church over the last ten years.

The excavations produced some impressive results: burials from the minster church of St
Frideswide (now the cathedral); a garderobe, or latrine to the west of the church which was probably there for pilgrims visiting the tomb of St Frideswide; evidence of medieval streets that disappeared as the college expanded; foundations from some of the halls that served as halls of residence for the medieval students and evidence of Cardinal Wolsey's original plans for the college, that were changed when Henry VIII took charge.

The finds from these excavations give an interesting glimpse of studies at the medieval university, including an as yet unidentified scientific instrument, and a large collection of glass and pottery from distilling implements.  This is the earliest find of such objects in Britain, dating to the mid-14th century, and it is also the second largest of such finds.

Some of this pottery and glassware had been subjected to intense heat and the internal glaze had been partly corroded by strongly acidic or corrosive substances, suggesting that they may have been used in the pursuit of the study of alchemy.

You can find out more about this issue of Current archaeology here...  

The garderobe, or latrine west of the church

Foundations of one of the medieval halls of residence

Drawing of the unknown scientific instrument and what is possibly a set of scales

Some of the medieval glassware

Some of the medieval pottery

Images from Current Archaeology

Friday, 26 April 2013

Online Courses in Archaeology

University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology
Cave paintings, castles and pyramids, Neanderthals, Romans and Vikings - archaeology is about the excitement of discovery, finding out about our ancestors, exploring landscape through time, piecing together puzzles of the past from material remains.
These courses enable you to experience all this through online archaeological resources based on primary evidence from excavations and artefacts and from complex scientific processes and current thinking. Together with guided reading, discussion and activities you can experience how archaeologists work today to increase our knowledge of people and societies from the past.
The following courses are available:

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Didcot dig: Petition calls for history trail

The site

More than 300 people have signed a petition for a history trail on the site of a dig which found evidence of 9,000 years of human habitation.
Among the discoveries made by archaeologists west of Didcot in Oxfordshire was a rare and complete Neolithic bowl from about 3,600 BC.
The Didcot Dogmile group wants the sites of finds at the Great Western Park housing estate marked.

Karen Waggott said she hoped a trail would protect remaining archaeology.
"The 'feel' of the walk should reflect the site's archaeological and agricultural heritage," she explained.
Read the rest of this article...

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Oxford's University Church of St Mary the Virgin reopens

Oxford's 13th Century University Church of St Mary the Virgin has reopened following a £5.5m restoration.
The medieval building - which boasts Oxford's tallest spire - has undergone its biggest renovation since the late 19th Century in a two-year project.
Works included cleaning stonework, restoring the Clore Old Library, chancel and nave including 15th Century stalls, and improving access.
The church, which attracts 300,000 annual visitors, reopened earlier.

Watch the video...

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Marmalade for the students?

Recent excavations at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, produced a number of cylindrical marmalade jars, recovered with other debris from a feature interpreted as a store-room. Three jars were kept as a sample. All bear the mark of the Keiller marmalade company of Dundee. 

The origins of Keiller’s marmalade are supposed to lie, possibly apocryphally, in a shipment of over-ripe Seville oranges bought by James Keiller and used by his wife, Janet, to make marmalade. The brand was founded in 1797, as the first commercial marmalade brand, and its defining characteristic from the beginning was the characteristic scraps of rind in the preserve. By the late 19th century it was being exported around the world.

Read the rest of this article...

N.B. Students on the Oxford Experience get Cooper's Oxford Marmalade!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Why Not Learn Something New on Next Summer’s Vacation?

Oxford, England, February 26, 2013—Why not learn something new on your vacation next summer, and why not learn it at that most hallowed of learning institutions, the University of Oxford?  The Oxford Experience is a one-week summer course open to all, with no requirements, no exams and no papers.  The program  runs from  June 30 to August 10, 2013 at Christ Church, the most prestigious and beautiful of Oxford colleges.  Here participants live in rooms where English prime ministers and poets once lived, dine on High Table in the magnificent Hall featured in Harry Potter films, and learn about some 60 varied subjects. 
These subjects range from The Age of Churchill, Oxford Murder, The Victorian and Edwardian Home, the Gothic Novel, Enjoying the Cotswolds and The Life and Times of Richard III, to An Introduction to Particle Physics, From Rasputin to Putin, Political Philosophy, the Operas of Verdi and the Pleasures of Poetry.  Classes, with a maximum of 12 students, are made up of Anglophiles from all over the world, with the youngest in their thirties, the oldest in their nineties.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Will the study of archaeology soon become a thing of the past?

Greyfriars car park, Leicester, where the remains of King Richard III were found. Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters

Richard III's discovery showcased UK academia, says Michael Braddick. But as student demand for certain subjects falls, should we have grave concerns for our future knowledge base?

Finding Richard III (on the premises of Leicester social services no less) is testament to the ingenuity of archaeologists. Weaving together findings from historical analysis of texts with scientific analysis of the skeleton and the site, they have made an overwhelming case that these are the remains of the king.
As a historian, I spend a lot of time trying to listen to the dead. Every now and then a curtain seems to be pulled aside and we hear them directly, and the feeling is very powerful. The way that the wounds to the skull match with one of the historical accounts of Richard's death did that for me: I was taken to Richard's final moments, as his helmet was lost and his attackers closed in, his horse gone or stuck in the mud, the moments in other words when he knew he had lost his kingdom and his life. That human connection is precious, and rare.

Read the rest of this article...

You may also be interested in this course:  

An Introduction to Archaeology
Tutor: David Beard
7-13 July 2013
Further details ...

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Archaeology Summer Courses at Oxford

The Oxford Experience is offering a number of archaeology courses this summer.

Each course lasts for one week and participants stay in the 16th century college of Christ Church.

The courses offered are:

Cathedrals of Britain by James Bond
An Introduction to Archaeology by David Beard
The Black Death by Trevor Rowley (course full)
Bishop Odo and the Bayeux Tapestry by Trevor Rowley
Colleges of Oxford by Julian Munby
The Architecture and Archaeology of Medieval Churches by David Beard (course full)
Cotswold Towns by Trevor Rowley
Treasures of the British Museum by Michael Duigan (course full)
Churches of England by Kate Tiller
Treasures of the Ashmolean Museum by Gail Bent
The Age of Stonehenge by Scott McCracken
The World of the Vikings by David Beard

You can find further details here...

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Richard III dig: Facial reconstruction shows how king may have looked

The reconstruction was revealed earlier for the first time

A facial reconstruction based on the skull of Richard III has revealed how the English king may have looked.
A skeleton found under a car park in Leicester has been confirmed as that of the king.
The reconstructed face has a slightly arched nose and prominent chin, similar to features shown in portraits of Richard III painted after his death.
Historian and author John Ashdown-Hill said seeing it was "almost like being face to face with a real person".
The development comes after archaeologists from the University of Leicester confirmed the skeleton found last year was the 15th Century king's, with DNA from the bones having matched that of descendants of the monarch's family.

Read the rest of this article...

You may also be interested in this summer school course about Richard III:

The Life and Times of Richard III

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Ashmolean Museum in Oxford acquires Renaissance silverware

A stunning collection of Renaissance silverware worth tens of millions of pounds has been bequeathed to Oxford University's Ashmolean Museum.
The haul of nearly 500 items, described as the most important gift to a British museum for over a century, was donated by the late collector Michael Wellby.
The collection includes a rare lapis lazuli bowl, made by Dutch goldsmith Paulus van Vianen, valued at £3m.
A selection of the objects will go on temporary display from next month.
They will be housed in the museum's West Meets East gallery before the entire collection is showcased in a permanent gallery.

Read the rest of this article...

You might also be interested in this course: Treasures of the "Ashmolean Museum" 

Further deatails...

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Skeleton of Richard III may have been found -- but where will it end up?

A stained glass window at Cardiff Castle depicts King Richard III and Queen Anne Neville. (University of Leicester)

Archaeologists may have uncovered the skeleton of the lost English king Richard III. But if they have, what should be done with the remains?

That question is causing contention among Richard III enthusiasts, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal. The University of Leicester, which is overseeing the excavation and analysis of the remains, has jurisdiction over the remains, but various societies dedicated to the king have their own opinions.

Two groups, the U.S.-based Richard III Foundation and the Society of Friends of Richard III based in York, England, argue that the remains should be reburied in York, because Richard III was fond of that city, the Journal reported. The Richard III Society, which has been involved with the archaeological dig in Leicester that uncovered the remains, is officially neutral — a stance which itself has triggered anger.

Read the rest of this article...

You may also be interested in this summer school course about Richard III:

The Life and Times of Richard III

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Unlocking secrets from Jane Austen's Steventon home

The dig unearthed the foundations and objects from the site of Steventon Rectory

Finds from an archaeological dig at the birthplace of Jane Austen are beginning to reveal details of the author's early home life.

Volunteers excavated the field in Steventon in the Hampshire countryside in 2011 where the village's old rectory once stood.

The process of cleaning and interpreting the finds has yielded a clearer idea of what the house looked like and even what the family ate their meals off. 

Austen was born in the village where her father was rector in 1775, and lived there for 25 years. It was there she drafted stories which were eventually published as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.

The house was demolished soon after her family moved to Bath.

Read the rest of this article...