"Maintaining the best standards of independent archaeology."

Medieval Mason's Marks

Medieval Masons Marks

Fieldwork Projects

SOAG has actively been engaged in fieldwork for many years from the excavation of Paleolithic flints by the Thames to recording Cold War architecture. Projects can involve anything from simple excavation with a trowel to fieldwalking and landscape surveys using the latest geophysical techniques.
Our projects welcome both those who are new to archaeology and those with many years experience.

Projects are presented under three headings:

Projects active in 2023

Smokedown Roman-British Site

This multi-year project is the archaeological investigation of a Late Iron Age enclosure overlain by a substantial Romano-British villa (and surrounded by a complex system of enclosures, fields and trackways) in the Upper Thames Valley.  In previous years our efforts have been directed at probing the site.  Part of the magnetometry survey can be seen on the right and the resistivity survey with interpretation is here.

Having established outlines of both the LIA enclosure and the RB villa overlying it, and having confirmed that there are significant surviving archaeological remains beneath the surface, we are able to move on to more detailed and targeted investigation. This year’s principal objective will be to investigate the relationship and phasing of the aisled building seemingly integrated into the central core of the villa to form its northern wing, and its relationship with the large single span building to its NE. We will also be continuing our geophysical survey of the enclosure and the wider field.

A seven-week programme is planned beween aaugust and mid-September 2023. (Dates in the SOAG Calendar.) Participation priority is for members of SOAG.  Documents associated with the project can be found in the Smokedown Project Page.

For further information email: smokedown@soagarch.org.uk.


Wyfold Grange

This project, running from 2021-2023 was aimed at unravelling the origins and development of Wyfold Grange in South Oxfordshire. The goals were

* to try to establish, by excavation, the nature and extent of the earthwork enclosure and in particular any evidence for dating

* to carry out geophysical surveys in the open spaces of the site.  A particular aim is to see if the medieval manor house can be located.

* to understand more about the pond and its potential water sources by core sampling (augering) and hydrological research. 

* to establish archaeological walks around the site in order to bring information about the history of the area to members of SOAG and the wider public.

NB: This project is now complete and summary of the results, and links to the published results, is here.

The Landscape Archaeology of South Oxon

This new SOAG project, which starts in 2022, is focussed on looking at the landscape archaeology of South Oxfordshire. Landscape Archaeology is a longstanding technique, one in which an earlier generation of SOAG members were very active. But modern technology now gives us new information and new ways of analysing and presenting it. These include:

* Aerial photography
* Internet access, to SOAG's own records and also to 'grey literature' from professional digs

We shall be also using GIS (Geographical Information Systems). to create multi-layered maps on which we can analyse spatial and temporal relationships between information from multiple data sources.

This project affords us the opportunity to take a wider view of the landscape and to integrate more sources of information thereby, hopefully, gaining a better understanding of man’s impact on the landscape and, perhaps, why our ancestors did what they did.

It is anticipated that this will be a multi-year project, one that might well spin off other projects such as field excavations of interesting features. To become involved in this project email: landscape@soagarch.org.uk

Kelmscott Manor Community Archaeology Project

Kelmscott Manor, a 16th century grade 1 listed manor house, is near Faringdon on the upper reaches of the River Thames, (about 5 miles from SOAG’s Smokedown project). It is owned by the Society of Antiquaries, and was the country retreat of the designer William Morris from 1871 until his death in 1896.

As part of the Kelmscott Community Archaeological Research Programme SOAG is conducting magnetometry and resistivity surveys over some of the Kelmscott Manor land, under the auspices of professional archaeology company Cotswold Archaeology.  It is anticipated that in subsequent years Cotswold  will  be organising digs largely determined by SOAG’s geophysics results, to which SOAG will be invited.

To be involved in SOAG’s work on this project please email: Kelmscott@soagarch.org.uk. 
To be registered with the wider Kelmscott project, email:

Chinnor Community archaeology activities

SOAG is engaged in two projects in Chinnor.

In 2021 SOAG received an invitation from the local community to investigate an area in Chinnor Churchyard known as the ‘Plague Pit’ but which was more likely to have been a paupers’ burial area. The goal was to locate grave cuts for 18 paupers known to have buried somewhere. SOAG undertook a geophysical survey, which was ultimately inconclusive but which established a relationship between SOAG and the community.  

In 2022 the local community asked SOAG to work with them on an exploration of Chinnor Community Orchard - a small piece of land in Chinnor, leased to a charity, Greening Chinnor. The land formerly consisted of a number of cottages owned by bodgers working in the nearby woods.. Greening Chinnor volunteers are helping to clear the site and restore the orchard. and have asked for SOAG’s help in locating the former cottages on the site.  From historic maps and photographs they have a good idea of where the buildings were.  SOAG is helping to train the Greening Chinnor volunteers in archaeological procedures, and led a dig in the autumn of 2022. For further details contact chinnor@soagarch.org.uk.

Cold Harbour Farm –the search for a
 Roman settlement

This project is led by TWHAS (The Wallingford Historical and Archaeological Society) but participation is open to members of SOAG and other local archaeology societies, all of whom have made a significant contributions in the project’s first two years.

The Romans have been largely elusive in the extensive archaeology that has been conducted in Wallingford over many years.  However in the 1990s a significant Roman burial ground was found in a field across the river near Crowmarsh Gifford. The scope of the current project is the exploration of several local fields with the intention of finding the associated Romano-British settlement. 

The current phase of the project involves mainly non-intrusive fieldwork; embracing geophysical surveys (both resistivity and magnetometry), field walking and metal detecting. The project lasts for 2-3 weeks each August when the field become available, post harvesting. (in 2023 this will be in September.) SOAG members, and others, interested in participating should contact

MTAP: The Middle Thames Archaeology Partnership

SOAG has recently joined Middle Thames Archaeology Partnership (MTAP) an umbrella organisation to coordinate archaeology activities in the Middle Thames area. There are a couple of MTAP projects this year of interest to SOAG members. Click here for more information

See also: