Roman Alchester to Anglo-Saxon Bicester: Development and Discovery


The recent and rapid expansion of Bicester has been accompanied by a very large amount of development-led archaeological work, in an area which has not previously been very thoroughly explored. There have been important excavations in the historic centre of Bicester, and large-scale investigations on new housing and infrastructure developments around the town. There has been much work in the surroundings of the Roman walled ‘small town’ of Alchester, which is only about 2.5 kilometres from the historic centre of Bicester.

This event reviews some of the most important results from all this work. We will focus on three topics in particular:

  • The Late Iron Age landscape in which Alchester was built, originally as a Roman legionary fortress soon after the invasion of 43 AD.
  • What was happening to the surroundings of the Roman small town, which was defended with walls in the 3rd century AD.
  • The relationship between Alchester, which seems to have been abandoned at the end of the Roman period (remaining as a greenfield site to this day) and Anglo-Saxon Bicester, with its possible minster founded in the 7th century AD.

The day will start with an overview of development-led archaeology at Bicester and of the prehistoric background. This will be followed by a mixture of talks on specific recent excavations, given by people who have been directly involved in the work, and talks which synthesise and discuss the overall evidence for Roman Alchester and Anglo-Saxon Bicester. 

Please note: this event will close to enrolments at 23:59 BST on 15 May 2024.

Programme details

Registration at Rewley House reception

Setting the scene
Roger Thomas

Town and Country: archaeology and development around Bicester
Richard Oram

Tea/coffee break

Iron Age settlement, Roman Roads and interesting buildings: excavation on the periphery of Alchester
Gail Wakeham and Claire Randall

Alchester, Bicester and the East-West Rail archaeological project 
Becky Haslam

Lunch break

Roman Alchester and its environs in the light of recent work
Paul Booth

Tea/coffee break

A tale of two ceasters: Alchester and Anglo-Saxon Bicester 
John Blair

Discussion and closing remarks
Roger Thomas

End of day



Description Costs
Course Fee - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £99.00
Course Fee - virtual attendance £90.00
Baguette Lunch £6.50
Hot Lunch (3 courses) £17.60


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Mr Roger M Thomas

Course Director

School of Archaeology, University of Oxford

Mr Richard Oram


Planning Archaeologist, Oxfordshire County Council

Gail Wakeman


Clare Randall


Becky Haslam


Paul Booth


Paul Booth was a Senior Project Manager at Oxford Archaeology for many years before retiring in 2019. Working on a wide range of projects his principal focus was and is on aspects of Roman Britain, with particular interests in nucleated settlements, burial archaeology, coins and pottery and an emphasis on the archaeology of the Oxford region. Current projects include reporting on training excavations in Dorchester-on-Thames undertaken from 2007-2018.  

Prof John Blair


Professor of Medieval History and Archaeology, The Queen's College, Oxford


Please use the 'Book' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.