Drayton ‘Cursus’

Excavations of the ‘Drayton cursus’, an enigmatic Neolithic monument, were carried out AAAHS and Oxford Archaeology ahead of gravel quarrying south of Abingdon the 1980s.

‘Cursuses’ (which take their name from a Latin word meaning a race-track) consist of a pair of parallel ditches, which can run across the landscape for many kilometres. Their function is unknown, but they may have been used for processions or other ceremonies.

The Drayton cursus runs from south-east of Drayton village towards Abingdon. Its northern end has not been located, but the monument was at least 1.5 kilometres long.

Other things found during these excavations included a Roman trackway and field boundaries, and an early Saxon building.


St Peter’s Road

A Neolithic flint chisel was found in the garden of a house in St Peter’s Road in the 1980s. The find comes from the area of the Neolithic ’causewayed enclosure’ which was originally found when quarrying gravel nearby (at what is now Camerom Avenue and Gordon Drive). Chisels like this were prestigious items. It is now in Abingdon Museum.

A34 Abingdon Bypass

A Neolithic pit was found and excavated when a drainage ditch was being for the A34 Abingdon Bypass in 1972. The pit contained at least four pottery urns of a type called ‘Grooved Ware’, also associated with the builders of Stonehenge. The pit lay in the Ock valley, south of the Marcham Road Interchange. Some of the pottery is on display in Abingdon Museum

Gasworks, Vineyard

A hoard of four Neolithic stone axes were found when Abingdon’s new gasworks were being built in the Vineyard in the 1880s.

The axes are made of non-local stone, and probably came from Wales or the west or north-west of England.

They are on display in Abingdon Museum (on loan from the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford).


Abingdon Multiplex

A Neolithic long barrow and several Bronze Age round barrows, known from aerial photographs, were investigated in trial trenches.

The work was done as part of plans for a multiplex cinema next to Marcham Road Tesco, but the multiplex was never built.

The dark circles in the crop are ‘ring ditches’, the sites of Bronze Age barrows (burial mounds). The Neolithic long barrow is the pair of dark marks close to the A34, on the left of the photo. (c) AAAHS

Radley Road Causewayed Camp

A Neolthic ’causewayed enclosure’ was found in excavations in 1927, at a gravel quarry on Radley Road. Further excavations took place in 1963. The enclosure was built in about 3500 BC, according to radiocarbon dates. Pottery, animal bone and flint implements were found in the ditches of the enclosure. These enclosures were communal gathering places for the first farmers in Britain.

The site is now occupied by Cameron Avenue and Gordon Drive.

Barrow Hills

One of the most important excavations in Abingdon took place in the early 1980s at what is now Gardiner Close and Eason Drive.

A Neolithic barrow, several Bronze Age barrows and burials, a Roman cemetery and an Anglo-Saxon village were excavated. Some of the earliest metal objects from the British Isles (three small copper rings, dated to about 2500 BC), was found in this work.

Abingdon New Cemetery

Abingdon New Cemetery in Spring Gardens occupies one of the highest points in Abingdon. Excavations, and finds made during grave-digging, show that this site was used in many periods: Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman and Saxon.

Important discoveries included the site of a rare Bronze Age timber circle, probably a ceremonial monument of some kind.