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Broadcast 17 February 2013

In April 2012 an archaeological evaluation was undertaken by Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ at Dropshort Roman Villa, Drayton, Oxfordshire (centred on NGR 449420 193890), to reinvestigate and re-evaluate the Roman villa that had been the subject of archaeological investigations in 1962 and 1966. The aim of the evaluation was to ascertain the extent and condition of surviving archaeological deposits on the villa site, along with their chronological and spatial relationships, and to gain an understanding of the function or functions of the Roman structures.

The evaluation revealed the remnants of a Romano-British building complex, which had been revealed within previous excavations. Four rooms were uncovered, although their functions were not clear. The smallest of the rooms may have included a hypocaust, as this is suggested on the 1966 plan of the site. What could be suggested from the incomplete plan is that it was possibly a villa of winged corridor type. The building complex appeared to be surrounded by two enclosures: an inner single-ditched enclosure and a much larger, double-ditched enclosure. Nothing was found to support the circumstantial evidence (site of spring, proximity to hoard site) that the Site may have been of ritual or cult significance during the Romano-British period.

Although no associated features were found with it, a significant amount of malt was found in environmental samples taken from Trench 1, suggesting that brewing was taking place at the Site.

There was limited evidence of occupation of the Site prior to and after the Romano-British period. A small amount of struck flint was found in a tree throw in trench 5, and a single sherd of Anglo-Saxon pottery was found in a ditch in Trench 1. The Site has been subject to ploughing, and the state of preservation seems to have deteriorated through this activity, being further disturbed by the 1966 excavations. Topsoil across the Site is relatively shallow. The mosaic floor recorded in the 1966 excavations has not survived. The building had also been robbed in antiquity and a number of the walls were represented only by robber trenches.