“All we know at the moment is the individual was buried in the medieval period, and appears to be of the Christian tradition, given that they are oriented east to west,” says Oxford Archaeology Site Supervisor, Robin Bashford.
The grave, which was uncovered during routine pre-construction investigations on site, could form part of a cemetery connected to an Austin friary.
“Scant remains of the friary have been identified from previous excavations at the College. Therefore, this adds to an emerging picture and provides evidence that can be used to help interpret any future discoveries," says Robin.
“The individual could have been a brother or a lay person, or even a member of the local community who died in the Infirmary," he adds, noting that further study by osteoarchaeologists will reveal details of the person's age, sex and any disease.
Two limestone walls were also uncovered (most-likely belonging to a minor friary building) as well as a pit containing large quantities of demolition material, including roof tiles and high status decorated medieval floor tiles. The latter find may be contemporary with the demolition of the friary buildings following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century.
Following the digging of initial archaeological trial holes in 2017, Oxford Archaeology returned to excavate, record and protect any archaeological remains that could be affected by the construction of the William Doo Undergraduate Centre and the Dr Lee Shau Kee Access Centre. All artefacts will be stored and studied further at Oxford Archaeology.