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Revealing the secrets of Roman occupation

Goring Library and the Museums Service together revealed the Mystery of Lowbury Hill

From 22nd October to 24th November 2022

Have you ever visited Lowbury Hill? It lies a few kilometres to the West of Goring and Streatley, just North of the ancient Ridgeway path. If you get to the top on a clear day, you can enjoy beautiful views across seven counties. It’s been an important vantage point for centuries. An archaeological dig some years ago found evidence of human burial sites there and one of these, the burial of a woman in the remains of a Romano-Celtic temple, has not been fully investigated until now and has remained a mystery.  The Oxfordshire Museums Service, (OMS), Goring Library, and the Friends of Goring Library (FoGL) have been inspired by more recent research, and the work of a local artist, to create a month-long event exploring the facts, the unknown, and the human response to this fascinating local place. We called the event ‘The Mystery of Lowbury Hill’ and hope that you enjoyed the events we hosted during the month.

Angie Bolton, Curator of Archaeology for the Oxford Museums Service writes:

‘The hill hosts a series of archaeological remains, the two largest of which are a Roman period enclosure (land separated by earthworks and walls) and an Anglo-Saxon burial mound. Roman activity at the site began during the first century AD, and activity continued until the early fifth century AD. The enclosure visible today as a raised, square earthwork, was built at some point during the second century AD. This enclosure has been interpreted as a farmstead, a cattle pen, a military camp, a villa, and most recently – a Romano-Celtic temple.

Two University of Reading Phd students, Summer Courts and Seongmee Yoon. are studying the archaeology at Lowbury Hill and how to tell the story of the people that are buried there. ‘

While the research is continuing, the OMS, Goring Library, and FoGL hoped that the exhibition and events we put allowed people to find out what we already know about Lowbury Hill, delve into some local archaeology, explore aspects of Roman life, and be inspired by the work of local artist Anna Dillon. OMS has recently acquired her painting ‘Lowbury’ and it will be in the library for you to enjoy, as will a display of some of the Roman artefacts and coins from the Hill. These are usually kept in storage in the museum at Woodstock so it was a great opportunity to see them. We were also fortunate to have an archaeological expert, Dr Ed Caswell with us for a day in November. He’s from the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) which looks at items found by members of the public. If you ever find something when you’re out and about walking the dog/gardening/ metal detecting/ magnet fishing, that looks old but which you can’t identify, Dr Ed can help give you information about it, advise about caring for it and record your find. If it’s of archaeological interest he can record it on the PAS website which preserves information about such objects for future archaeologists, and for anyone wanting to know more about the past in the area. 

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