A trenched evaluation was carried out for Shropshire Council to examine the archaeological potential of a site intended for development at Oswestry Innovation Park, the land being adjacent to Mile End, Oswestry, Shropshire.
A desk-based assessment and a geophysical survey undertaken previously in relation to the same development had identified the presence of a 20th century prisoner of war camp, used during the Second World War. Both studies suggested that in addition to features associated with the camp, there was also a low to moderate potential for archaeological remains of prehistoric and Roman date to be present on the site.
Twenty evaluation trenches 20-30m in length were excavated within the proposed development area. Evidence was encountered for buried and extant remains of the World War II Prisoner of War Camp in fifteen trenches, in the form of concrete structures, pathways and trackways. Only one other archaeological feature was revealed: a large post-hole backfilled with soils mixed with frequent amounts of charcoal, located in Trench 20 at the southern area of the site. Trench 20 had been targeted to investigate a potential ring ditch recorded by the geophysical survey.
A comparatively small finds assemblage of only 14 items was recovered: 11 sherds of pottery, 2 lithic items and the partial remains of a C20th leather shoe with a thin wooden heel. The presence of the lithics, including a thumbnail scraper from Trench 18, also in the southern area of the site, tentatively indicated the low-level presence of prehistoric activity.
Following discussions with the client, further archaeological work in the form of a watching brief was recommended, but only in those areas where proposed ground-works were likely to impact upon either the Second World War Camp or the area of the potential ring ditch.
The work represented a positive example of the benefits of close co-operation, the result being a carefully considered mitigation strategy that minimised potential disruption and costs to the developer, while helping to preserve potential archaeological deposits in situ.