An important aspect of OA’s relations with the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, is the annual training excavation at Dorchester-on-Thames
The excavation has been running since 2008, with its principal (mainly Roman) site in the allotments in the south-west quarter of the village. This is one of the key activities of the Discovering Dorchester Project, whose partner members are the university, OA, and the Dorchester Abbey Museum.
The project benefits from Dorchester’s remarkable concentration of significant archaeological remains, from Neolithic burials and ceremonial monuments to medieval religious and domestic buildings. Specialists in most of these periods, Chris Gosden and Helena Hamerow from the University and Gill Hey and Paul Booth from OA, put together a wide-ranging research design for Dorchester in 2007, and subsequent small-scale excavations directed by the OA pairing have produced important evidence for most of the periods concerned, as well as providing basic fieldwork training for Oxford undergraduates from the School of Archaeology, students from Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, a variety of other paying guests of all ages, and local people.
The supervisory staff include undergraduate and post-graduate students and the Oxfordshire Finds Liaison Officer. Excavation training is complemented by talks on a wide range of topics given by members of the team and other staff from the Institute of Archaeology, and other activities include an annual open day. The project provides a vital training function for the university, an opportunity for OA staff to be involved in non-commercial work, and a close direct link between the two institutions. It is hoped that this can be developed further when the current site work is completed and moves into a post-excavation phase.