The Wiggold Project is an archaeological study of the human occupation and use of the limestone uplands in the heart of the Cotswolds of central southern England from the end of the last Ice Age to the present day.
Wiggold is now a small hamlet at the centre of a large farm whose origins can be traced back to the lands of Cirencester Abbey, an Augustinian foundation established by Henry I in AD1117. The name Wiggold is even older and translates as ‘Wicga’s Wold’: an area of lofty open ground owned by Wicga some time before the Norman Conquest. Archaeologically, the landscape all around Wiggold is exceptionally rich in sites and monuments that provide an opportunity to explore the way that people shaped and structured their world at particular moments in the past, and how these events have built up to form the land we experience today.
Early prehistoric sites are represented by scatters of flint tools, often near springs and rivers, and show the first settlement of the area before 4000 BC. Long barrows and causewayed enclosures are known right across the Cotswolds and relate to occupation of the uplands by hunter-gardeners in the period 4000 to 3000 BC. Farming becomes more widespread after 3000 BC, and from this time down to about 1000 BC there are round barrows and settlements. The first millennium BC sees the development of more than two dozen hillforts on the Cotswolds, interspersed between numerous farmsteads and villages. Many still existed at the time of the Roman Conquest and continued to form the backbone of the local economy. A major Roman road, the Fosse Way, runs through the Wiggold Estate and was for a short period around AD 47 the northwestern frontier of the Roman Empire. There were contemporary military installations at Cirencester to the east which soon became a focus for the development of a small town that in turn grew to become Corinium Dobunnorum, the second largest town in Roman Britain. Such as the influence of Cirencester that through medieval times it remained an important administrative centre with its abbey, market, and wealthy estates.
In 2007, the first season of the Wiggold Project, attention will focus on a series of prehistoric sites revealed by preliminary surveys in summer 2006. This will include further surveys of what appears to be a previously unknown barrow (?long barrow) and a large earthwork enclosure that may be contemporary. Our aim is to sample these features in order to determine their date and purpose, and to further map their nature and extent. There will also be surveys of extant landscape features such as field boundaries and buildings, and historical investigations of available records and early maps.
The Wiggold Project is being undertaken by Bournemouth University in association with Abbey Home Farm and Cotswold Archaeology.
Contact the Schools project officer Marie Dunning for further information.