An excavation by OA South to uncover evidence of Oxford University’s lost college at the site of a student accommodation scheme under construction in Brasenose College’s Frewin Annexe has unearthed part of the original structure.

The former St Mary’s College was founded in 1435, but delays and incompetence hampered construction until Cardinal Wolsey intervened in the 1520s. The work proceeded quickly, but the building was then disbanded and then quickly fell into a state of disrepair after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII between 1536-41.

The team has found part of the Wolsey phase of construction in the form of a massive limestone wall foundation, which is believed to have supported the wall to a very significant stone building, possibly the south range of the cloister.

Near to the wall foundations, excavation has been underway on a series of pits that are rich in artefacts, including butchered animal bones and charcoal indicating the disposal of waste from food preparation, possibly from the kitchens to St Mary's College. Other artefacts include a complete 17th century stone flagon, a bone comb, a long cross silver penny, and decorated floor tiles.

The excavation has been funded by Brasenose College, and the team is working alongside construction firm Beard, which is developing the site.

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