Oxfordshire's Historic Archives

Historic Oxfordshire

Preserving and Enhancing Access to Historic Oxfordshire
Records of Archaeological Work held by the Ashmolean Museum

Site Name: Frilford

Site Location: South Oxfordshire
Related Achive: Manning, Rolleston (and Leeds)

The documentary archives of Prof. Rolleston and Percy Manning both contain references to the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Frilford.

In 1864 and 1865 several Anglo-Saxon graves were found by labourers quarrying for stone on Frilford Heath. J.Y. Akerman investigated the site and found 38 graves. George Rolleston then excavated an additional 123 graves in 1867-68. E.T. Leeds and D. Buxton excavated a further single female Anglo-Saxon burial in the north corner of the quarry in 1910. Finally In 1920 the Oxford University Archaeological Society excavated 40 Romano-British and 5 Anglo-Saxon graves. The finds from many of these graves are now held in the Ashmolean Museum. (Find out more about this Anglo-Saxon cemetery)

Percy Manning also recorded the discovery, in a quarry to the north of Frilford, of a bronze ring in a large pot. At the same spot, where the Abingdon to Fyfield road crosses the Oxford to Wantage road, Rolleston also found a skeleton. The ring is now in the Ashmolean Museum (AN1887.3205).

Manning notes that a small Roman Villa was found in a field at Frilford. It was identified from finds of coins, pottery, nails, animal bones and oyster shells. The site was excavated in 1884 by Arthur Evans, who uncovered a building consisting of 12 rooms with a portico, with 2 more rooms found to the north-east of the villa, which were possibly part of a bath-house. On the ground nothing is now visible of this site and recent ploughing has failed to reveal any further Roman finds. (A plan of the villa can be see in the Berkshire Victoria Country History)

Since these discoveries, a Romano-Celtic temple site has also been identified and excavated at Noak's Ark in Frilford. Finds from this site are also in the Ashmolean Museum.


Archaeological Journal (1897), 54, pp340-354.

L H D Buxton (1921) "Excavations at Frilford", Antiquaries Journal I, 87-97.

P. H. Ditchfield & W Page (1906) Victoria County History of Berkshire, Vol I, p207-209

H.J.E. Peake (1931) The Archaeology of Berkshire, p196.

'Notes and News'(1949) Oxoniensia, 14, p76.

Aerial Photographs

Click on picture to see a larger image
Aerial photograph of Noak's Ark, Frilford
Noah's Ark taken by Major Allen on 17 June 1938 (Ref Album 16,6)

Object Photographs

Part of a large pot (AN1886.1406)
Fragment of a large urn from the Anglo-Saxon cemetery (AN1886.1406)
Applied brooch (AN1912.52i)
Applied brooch from the Anglo-Saxon cemetery (AN1912.52i)
Bone comb (AN1886.1430)
Bone comb from the Anglo-Saxon cemetery (AN1886.1430)
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