In 2002, The Northmoor Trust (now Earth Trust) obtained Heritage Lottery support for a three-year project to examine landscape change using the local Oxfordshire landscape and to present the results to the public via Project Timescape, a new type of museum, at Hill Farm, Little Wittenham, which opened in 2006.
The long term goals of Project Timescape were to educate and engage people in their local landscape and inspire them to take action to protect it.
This project aimed to examine the interaction of human activity and environmental change since the end of the last glaciation some 10,000 years ago, and to model future changes up until AD 2075 based upon the adoption of differing environmental strategies at the global, national, regional and local level.
What we did
Oxford Archaeology were responsible for putting together the programme of archaeological research for the past history of the area, for supervising the archaeological investigations and for bringing the results to publication.
In line with the ethos of the Heritage Lottery Fund, a core focus of the project was the involvement of the local community. Archaeological work was carried out by team of amateur archaeologists and community volunteers with supervision by Oxford Archaeology.
Field-walking by volunteers revealed concentrations of artefacts like roman tiles, suggesting the location of buildings, and geophysics techniques showed the hidden evidence of changes in soil density and moisture content.
Geophysics work in 2002 provided the first hint that there was an earlier fortification on Castle Hill, before the still-visible hill fort and the geophysics also suggested various concealed pits and other man-made structures.
This formed the basis for the detailed excavation plan – approved by English Heritage.
The excavations were conducted by Oxford Archaeology – with an 8 week dig investigating 7 trenches on the hill fort in 2003 and further work done south of the farm buildings at Hill Farm in 2004.
Channel 4 Television’s Time Team carried out a parallel investigation and excavation of the southern side of Round Hill – long believed to have been the site of a roman villa and earlier iron-age structures.
In 2006, the Trust completed its move to the volunteer-constructed, environmentally friendly offices at Hill Farm and opened the landscape evolution centre known as Project Timescape.
The visitor centre focused on the archaeology of the Wittenham Clumps, geology of the South Oxfordshire area, wildlife on the Little Wittenham Nature Reserve, the Trust’s conservation farm and the effects climate change will have on our landscape in the future.
Project Timescape became a major partnership of active participants and supporting organisations, including
Oxford Archaeology Unit who carried out much of the historical and all the archaeological research
Environmental Change Institute of the University of Oxford who did the research on future changes to the landscape
Past Forwards of York who put together the exhibits and displays
English Heritage who shaped our approach to restoration of the Clumps and other elements of landscape
HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund)
and many more.