Time Team Series 17: Priory Engagement (Burford, Oxfordshire)

Broadcast 17 October 2010 | Report available

The town name of Burford in Oxfordshireis of Anglo-Saxon origin and means ‘ford by or leading to the burh’, a burh being an enclosed site ranging from a fortified town to an estate centre. No sign of a burh has ever been found in Burford, but it is thought that one did exist there, probably built in the 10th century. Elsewhere in Burford, the existing grand house at Burford Priory hides the remains of the medieval hospital of St John the Evangelist, which was certainly in existence by the early 13th century, and may have been founded in the 12th century. Time Team aimed to find out how much of the original medieval buildings survived, and to see whether there was any evidence for Anglo-Saxon activity here.

No firm evidence for any Anglo-Saxon features was found on the site, although a number of pottery sherds of this date were found in the Kitchen Garden.

The foundations of a medieval building were revealed on the lawn in front of the present house. This building was aligned on a medieval arcade, part of which was revealed during restoration work on the Priory in 1908, and has been identified, by its position, as part of the infirmary chapel. Pottery sherds from an old ground surface through which the foundation trenches for the chapel were cut were dated to the 12th or 13th century, which broadly corresponds with the historical evidence for the probable foundation of the Hospital in the 12th century. Other medieval finds include decorated floor tiles, glazed roof tiles, and an iron padlock key.

The rest of the medieval Hospital is thought to lie beneath the present building.

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Burford Priory, OxfordshireBurford Priory, Oxfordshire

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