Oxfordshire's Historic Archives

Historic Oxfordshire

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

Site Name: Woodeaton

Site Location: Central Oxfordshire
Related Achive: Manning

Percy Manning assembled a collection of artefacts from the Roman temple site at Woodeaton.

Several fields from around the village of Woodeaton have for nearly 300 years produced Roman finds. Trial excavations by the Oxford University Archaeological Society in 1920-21, and again in 1934, in fields to the northwest of the village, produced coins, pieces of bronze, samian ware and other types of pottery, alongside traces of building foundations.

Aerial photographs taken by Major G.W.G. Allen in 1936 also suggested a substantial structure existed on the site. (see aerial photograph)

The numerous bronze items found in these fields suggest a temple site. Excavations in 1952 by Joan Kirk of the Ashmolean Museum and Richard Goodchild, Deputy Director of the British School in Rome, confirmed this idea. A Romano-Celtic temple was discovered dedicated to an unidentified deity.

The first temple was a small square building built in the first century. This temple was subsequently replaced by a slightly more substantial building and surrounded by a rectangular wall with an entrance gateway to the east. (see site plan)

Fragments of decorated plaster and moulded stone indicated this second building was of some importance. Finds such as bronze brooches, toilet implements, decorated bronze plaques and small bronze statuettes, were probably votive offerings made by visitors to the site.

Some of the metal objects recovered may have been produced nearby. A site to the south east of Woodeaton, Drun's Hill, has produced evidence of iron working, however no evidence of bronze working has yet been found.

Collections of finds from Woodeaton were made by Sir Arthur Evans, Rev. Canon Gordon, Percy Manning, Rev. E.A. Sydenham and Wyndham Hughes. These collections, together with the finds from the above excavations are now held by the Ashmolean Museum.


J.R. Kirk and R. Goodchild, "The Romano Celtic Temple at Woodeaton", Oxoniensia XIX, 1954, pp15-37

J.R. Kirk, "Bronzes from Woodeaton, Oxon", Oxoniensia XIV, 1949, pp1-45

Victoria County History of Oxfordshire, Vol I, p299

Aerial Photographs

Click on picture to see a larger image
Aerial photograph of Roman temple at Woodeaton
Woodeaton temple site taken by Major Allen on 12 April 1936 (Ref Album )
(There is distinct square shaped feature in the centre of this photograph.)

Site Plan

Site Plan of Temple
Plan of Woodeaton Temple following 1952 Excavations

Object Photographs

Bronze triangular plaque (AN1921.1051)
Copper alloy triangular plaque embossed with a crude figure from collection of Arthur Evans (AN1921.1051).
Bronze knife handle (AN1921.159)
Copper alloy knife handle in the form of a female figure - Minerva with a gorgon head - from
the collection of Percy Manning (AN1921.159)

View reverse of object
Artefacts from Gordon Collection
Assorted copper alloy objects from the collection of Reverend Gordon

View artefacts found at Woodeaton from the following collections:

© Copyright University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, 2006. Last updated: June-2006
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