A SAXON settlement could lie beneath land earmarked for a new 3G sports pitch at an Oxford secondary school.

Archaeologists are set to explore the site at The Oxford Academy in Sandy Lane West, Littlemore, in the hope of protecting artefacts there.

It is believed there could be items of interest dating back to the Mesolithic period of between 10,000 and 5,000 BC.

The 8,043sqm pitch made from artificial turf on a base of sand and rubber crumb is due to open by December.

But before work can start the archaeological investigation needs to happen.

Oxford Archaeology has been commissioned to undertake the excavation.

A document written about the work by company project officer John Boothroyd said: "A number of archaeological excavations, evaluations and watching briefs have been carried out within the vicinity of the site.

"The area along the Littlemore Brook is rich in prehistoric, Roman and Anglo Saxon settlement activity.

"Approximately 500m to the south-wets of the proposed development excavation for the expansion of the Oxford Science Park produced evidence ranging from Mesolithic through to the Anglo Saxon periods.

"Roman Pottery was present across the site and thought to be associated with manuring of the fields.

"A total of 10 definite and two possible Saxon sunken featured buildings were identified.

"A rich assembly of Saxon artefacts was recovered including pottery, textile combs, spindle whorls, bone pins, glass beads and a copper alloy broach pin."

Oxford Archaeology added that a trial-trench dug immediately to the south of the proposed sports pitch revealed another early Saxon sunken featured building.

The report said: "The presence of early Saxon remains both to the north and south of the site indicated the presence of a dispersed early Saxon settlement in this location."

Archaeologists will work for two days to create a 'controlled strip' and – depending on the level of archaeological remains found – more people will then work to excavate them.

They would be excavated by hand to find out what they are and when they date from.

A full photographic record will be made of anything found, including shots that will illustrate the nature of the work that takes place.

It is not yet known if the work will delay the opening of the new pitch.

No-one from the school was available to talk.