in the Royal County of Berkshire

Boxford History

The Triumph of Bellerophon. The Boxford Mosaic, a unique survival from Roman Britain.

Roman Boxford Mosaic

Please don’t delay if you are going to vote online for Boxford’s nomination for the Current Archaeology award for revealing the Boxford mosaic. You can see all about it and vote at
This is a prestigious award and hopefully will help us when we seek grants to fully excavate the mosaic. We are up against stiff opposition in the research category – so please vote before 5th February and rope in family members and friends too! This is a public vote ie the result is down to members of the public only voting online. The awards will be held in London University’s Senate House on February 23rd.
We have landowner permission to continue excavation of the Boxford mosaic but because of the crop rotation, this will be in 2019 probably mid August after the harvest. We estimate that we will need around 4 weeks for the excavation. The villa will be covered by plastic sheeting and scaffolding whilst the dig is in progress to prevent damage by rain and sun. In the meantime, we have begun fundraising, so if you can help with contacts, fundraising or with help next year please let me know.
It is incredible to us that this modest Roman villa should have such a rare mosaic within. We are very fortunate that one of the leading UK iconographers, Anthony Beeson, will be giving a talk at Boxford Village Hall on Saturday 3rd March at 7pm entitled The Triumph of Bellerophon. The Boxford Mosaic, a unique survival from Roman Britain. Places will be limited on a first come first served basis because we anticipate a full house. Boxford and BARG members are being notified first before it goes out to a wider public. So please reply to
For those of you who might be interested in the background of our speaker, who after his visit to the site last year conducted an incredibly thorough research looking at mosaics throughout the Roman world.
Anthony Beeson was born in 1948 into a well established Brighton family. Having worked at the Courtauld Institute of Art Library, he moved to Bristol in 1972 to become Fine Art Librarian, and over the following thirty-seven years developed the Bristol Art Library into one of the finest British public collections of art books. He is a noted classical iconographer who has written extensively in academic journals, lectured on Romano-British art and appeared on the television programme Time Team.

Roman Boxford Dig 2017

The last of our three Heritage Lottery funded digs will take place this summer, starting on Saturday 12th August in the parish of Boxford about half a mile from the village centre.  We will be working for 2 weeks and volunteers may come and go as convenient for them. However, it is useful for us to know which days volunteers are coming. So please let me know which days you plan to come. Please note Mondays of both weeks will be REST DAYS!

We start with a daily briefing by a professional archaeologist Matt Nichol from Cotswold Archaeology at around 9am; have breaks mid morning and afternoon, stop for lunch and finish around 5pm. Volunteers are covered by insurance – not that we have ever had to claim. There are portable loos on site and a large marquee to provide cover.

We will be excavating a known Roman villa site and another Roman building, which we found by doing a geophysical survey a couple of years ago. It could be another villa or a large agricultural building but since it has not been disturbed we hope to have some decent finds. An excavator does most of the heavy digging and then volunteers move in afterwards.

We also process and document finds and we use volunteers for this too – so there are different opportunities for volunteers. All tools are provided, and professionals will be on site at all times to provide guidance and help. If you would like to volunteer – the only things that you need to provide are gardening gloves to protect your hands, sensible footwear, old      clothing depending on rain or sun,         suncream, a hat/waterproofs, your         lunch and plenty to drink. If you have a garden kneeler you might like to bring that to protect your knees!

We have a good mix of volunteers and hope that some of our 6th formers and Uni students will return again – they seem to have enjoyed their past experiences and for those applying to universities, joining in this kind of project does look good on a Uni application, even if they don’t plan on studying archaeology.

For “old hands” please come with buckets, trowels, hand shovels and wheelbarrows if you have them. We will be putting up the marquee on Monday 7th August – if anyone is available to help with this, will you please give me a call or email, so we can finalise the time.

We especially hope locals will make the most of this last great opportunity to discover more about the place in which they live – particularly as they may not only discover Roman remains in their own gardens but understand and appreciate what they find!


Many thanks and look forward to meeting you.

Joy Appleton

Boxford History Project                 01488608422

Revealing Boxford’s Ancient Heritage wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

Boxford History Project has received £62,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for Revealing Boxford’s Ancient Heritage: a community archaeology project. This three-year project under professional archaeological guidance will investigate three closely linked Roman sites near to Boxford village in West Berkshire. Previous work at these sites suggested Roman occupation in an area where little is known about the extent of early settlement.

In the past, our community archaeology has successfully drawn together people from a wide age-range and all walks of life. This time our volunteers will receive specialist training, with lectures and fieldwork, giving them the skills to interpret their local heritage, and identify, record and protect these sites. Any finds will be displayed at the newly built Heritage Centre in Boxford.

Over the past three years, Boxford History Project (BHP) has been helped by the Berkshire Archaeology Research Group (BARG) and Cotswold Archaeology (CA) to undertake preliminary geophysical surveys of all three potential sites and identified varied building outlines, predominantly from the Roman period. Trial excavations took place on the largest of the sites two years ago with some exciting finds. Thanks to National Lottery players, this grant will enable BHP in a formal partnership with BARG and CA to investigate the function, extent, status, chronology and relationship between the three sites, which seem to represent a significant focus of high-status Roman occupation in the Lambourn Valley, with the Roman Road, Ermin Street nearby.

Commenting on the award, Joy Appleton said: “We are somewhat stunned but absolutely thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. We are confident that the project will enthuse locals and a wider audience to take part in the project and gain a greater understanding of what went on here in Boxford 2000 years ago.”

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, the head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East, Stuart McLeod, said: “We are delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, we are able to support this fascinating project, which will give visitors and the local community a chance to explore and learn about the heritage under their feet”.


Boxford history book – Boxora to Boxford


Copies are available from Joy Appleton 01488 608422, Sue Downes 01488 608285 or Marion Knape 01488 608618 or by email: All households in Boxford Parish received a free copy of Boxora to Boxford.



Boxford’s Parish Plan, completed in 2008, identified strong support for the printing of a simple parish history. Indeed at the time of compiling the Parish Plan there had been such a great demographic change, that there were few “locals” who knew the history of the parish before World War II. A more comprehensive history of the parish “Boxford  Barleycorn” written by local teacher Elsie Huntley has long been out of print. Her book provided the starting point for the further research work undertaken by the Boxford History Project team in 2008. The team is greatly indebted to many for their generous giving of information, artefacts, film and photographs; all of which has helped us to understand better the history of this treasured little place now called Boxford. As with all histories, new information comes to light all the time and we hope that in future years, another group will have the enthusiasm to update this history of Boxford.

On a personal level, I would like to pay tribute  to the dedicated sleuths who have contributed so much to the making of this  little book – The Boxford History Project  team: Sue Downes, Marion Knape, Margaret Rigby, Prue Willison and Steve Smart.

Joy Appleton
Chair BHP

© 2018 Boxford

Up ↑