Excavations at Oakley Road, Clapham


The Highways Agency commissioned Albion to evaluate the proposed route of the A6 Clapham Bypass. Extensive archaeological remains were identified in riverside fields immediately south of Oakley Road, near to the railway bridge. The site was excavated by Albion in 2001.

Iron Age Farmers

Archaeologists discovered that, from the late Iron Age period, some 2300 years ago, the area was divided into a series of land parcels bounded by ditches. Within these enclosures archaeologists discovered two roundhouses, 9-10 metres in diameter, where the Iron Age farmers lived.  Pits found nearby were used for rubbish disposal. They show up as dark circular areas standing out as features from the background of lighter soil.

The Romans

orc717 Drying oven.jpg

In the early Roman period a new rectilinear enclosure system and a network of trackways was established.   Large quantities of Roman pottery were found in the ditch fills. Associated with the enclosures was a carefully constructed T-shaped oven. Drying ovens like this were used for drying grains, and in this case, environmental sampling of the deposits within the oven suggest that this particular drying oven was used for drying barley.

Saxon Builders

Saxon occupation of the site is indicated by the remains of five buildings, clustered into three distinct groups. These are a characteristic type of structure known as 'sunken feature buildings' (SFBs) - so called because they were built over large pits or cellars.  The picture shows one of these features after it has been excavated in quadrants. An earlier T-shaped oven and a section through a Roman ditch can be seen in the background.

orc717 Sunken featured building and drying oven.JPG

The Last of the Settlement

orc717 Bone comb.png

A double-sided bone comb was found in the fill of one of the sunken featured buildings.  It was intricately crafted with narrow slots on each side to receive the individually-made teeth.  This was probably one of the last artefacts to have been thrown away before the settlement was abandoned.

The settlement was abandoned in the early-middle Saxon period,  perhaps shifting over to the site of the present village of Clapham.  The site was ploughed in the medieval period and now lies directly underneath the newly constructed A6 Clapham Bypass.

Alan Ferguson