EAST Oxford residents will soon get a glimpse into what was happening in their gardens 800 years ago.

And if past finds are anything to go by the picture may not be all rosy.

Archeox, the East Oxford archaeology and history project, is carrying out two mini-excavations in Temple Cowley on Saturday and Sunday.

The team is inviting residents in Temple Road, St Christopher’s Place, Don Bosco Close, Junction Road and Crescent Road to help them uncover the secrets buried in their gardens.

With the help of residents, they will square off a metre of land and carefully dig down, sifting soil in the hope of finding evidence of the area’s past.

The team has carried out two major East Oxford excavations, in Bartlemas and Minchery Farm, but is using the smaller digs to hone skills and enthuse volunteers.

For the last three years they have been building up a picture of life in the 12th century around East Oxford from its days as a Roman settlement.

Alongside the Romano-British pottery industry they have uncovered prehistoric sites, a medieval leper hospital and civil war defences.

Archeox archaeologist Jane Harrison said: “We’ve leafleted the entire area and have about 600 volunteers, so it will be a case of walking up to someone’s house, knocking on their door and asking if we can dig in their garden.

"It is a very careful and delicate process. We take photographs of everything, but anything that is found belongs to the householder or landowner.”

Mrs Harrison added: “We know the crusading monks the Knights Templar had a manor around this area in the 12th century and we’ll be looking for evidence of that.

"There was a medieval village in Temple Cowley, we have even found prehistoric artefacts in that area, so it is a very exciting place for us to search.”