Wessex Archaeology have been commissioned by Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd. to undertake the archaeological mitigation during the construction of the Wichelstowe southern access road. The new two-lane carriageway, with footway/cycleway, will connect the Wichelstowe development, southwest of Swindon, with the M4, helping to support 4,500 new homes, a new district centre and unlocking 12.5 hectares of employment land, supporting an estimated 2,000 new jobs.
Wessex Archaeology’s involvement with the Wichelstowe development goes back to 2013. Three phases of archaeological evaluation were undertaken, totaling 343 trial trenches, which encompassed both the urban development and the route of the new access road. The evaluation successfully identified archaeology dating to the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Romano-British and medieval periods.
In 2017 Wessex Archaeology undertook a strip, map and sample excavation in advance of the development of carparking and playing fields for the new primary and secondary schools at Deanery, Wichelstowe, to the northeast of the current scheme. The excavation revealed part of a Late Bronze Age settlement with at least one, possibly two, roundhouses and other post-built structures, along with evidence for later prehistoric and Romano-British land use.
In late 2019, Wessex Archaeology undertook additional geophysical surveying for Griffiths at locations along the route of the new road which had not been previously evaluated in 2013. The survey successfully detected anomalies (possible ditches and pits) thought to be evidence of earlier land use and land division.
Throughout 2020 Wessex Archaeology will be monitoring the stripping of the new road’s route. Archaeological features and deposits revealed during this process will then be subject to strip, map and record excavations, hopefully shedding even more light on how this landscape was organized and exploited from late prehistory through to the present day.