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Shopping centre dig to unearth house secrets
Buy this photo » Supervisor Amelia Fairman climbs down to the excavation
IT MIGHT be home to a whole host of shops, but hundreds of years ago the Clarendon Centre was actually someone’s house.
At least that’s what builders have found as they dig below it as part of the centre’s £6m revamp.
The refurbishment will see the centre grow in size by 10 per cent and become home to fashion chain H&M.
But before building can begin, archaeologists have opened up two trenches to work their way through nearly 10 centuries of history.
Richard Hughes, consultant archaeologist to Lothbury Investment Management, which manages the Clarendon Centre, said: “We have so far dug about two metres below ground level and revealed stone walls and foundations of a building from the 17th or 18th century.
“It was probably a large house that would have fronted north on to Sewy’s Lane, the present day Shoe Lane. “Behind this was a substantial garden, much like the one still there today on the other side of the lane.
“The excavations have now found older remains of the 15th and 16th century, including a garden area that was part cobbled over.
“Stone lined cess pits associated with the building have also been exposed, which will give us a rare insight into the way of life of some of Oxford’s inhabitants.”
People are now being invited to have a look at the archaeological dig, which is being carried out as part of the planning conditions imposed by Oxford City Council .
The dig will be open on Saturday between 10am and 4pm.
Adam Smith, director of Lothbury Investment Management, said: “We are very excited about the improvements we are making to the Clarendon Centre, which will see more people coming to the centre and a great new shopping experience.
“These interesting excavations are a once in a lifetime opportunity to investigate previous buildings on the site and we’re delighted to give people the chance to see the progress the archaeologists are making.”
As part of the work the Currys Digital store near the Shoe Lane entrance is being demolished and replaced by a three-storey extension.
Currys and PC World will move into the two storey unit previously home to River Island.
The redevelopment is expected to be completed by October 2013.