Archaeology in the spotlight as new publication puts 2000 years of Winchester’s history on the record

Press Release: 15/09/2017

Patrick Ottaway talks to the assembled guests Copyright Javaid Akhtar 2016

Copyright Javaid Akhtar 2016

Winchester City Council and Historic England launched the publication of ‘Winchester, St Swithun’s ‘City of Happiness and Good Fortune’ - An Archaeological Assessment’ by Patrick Ottaway last week at the Guildhall, Winchester. The publication provides a single, comprehensive account of the archaeology of Winchester and took over 2 decades to create.

Senior members of Historic England together with representatives from the Hampshire Cultural Trust, Winchester Excavations Committee, the University of Winchester, local societies and other respected academics joined the council to celebrate this landmark volume which offers a critical assessment of the archaeology of the city and its immediate environs.

The richly illustrated book also assesses Winchester’s role on the wider regional, national and international stage over its long history and covers archaeological discoveries in the city from the first recorded find of Roman and Saxon antiquities.

Roger Thomas, formerly of Historic England (previously English Heritage) and who led the urban programme which this volume forms a part of for many years, commented that the city’s archaeological database and the book together form a firm basis to inform the future management of the city’s buried heritage. He also noted that Winchester has bookended his long career, which began with discussing development sites here with a former City Archaeologist, Ken Qualman and ended with the published first edition arriving on his desk in his last week with Historic England.

Patrick Ottaway, author of the volume, said:

“I was delighted to attend the launch of ‘St Swithun’s City of Happiness and Good Fortune – the Winchester Urban Archaeological Assessment on the evening of Friday 8 September. The volume illustrates the richness of the city’s archaeology and I hope it will be the framework and inspiration for more exciting research in the future. On a personal note, it was a great thrill to be involved with the study of the important historic city where I began my professional career as an archaeologist.”

Cllr Caroline Brook, Portfolio holder for Built Environment, added:

“The City Council understands the huge importance of archaeology within the district – our current regeneration projects each include dedicated programmes that ensure the archaeological impacts of any development are carefully considered. The Central Winchester Regeneration Scheme team, for example, is appointing a dedicated specialist panel of experts to advise on how we can best protect the archaeology. Our commitment to preserving our heritage is longstanding and enduring.
A huge amount of hard work has made the publication of this volume possible and I would like to thank both former and current Winchester City Council staff, Historic England and Patrick Ottaway for an outstanding joint effort that provides us with the legacy of an informative, coherent record of Winchester’s past.”

The new volume, titled after St Swithun, Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester and the city’s patron saint, forms part of a national archaeological programme sponsored by Historic England, and was produced by the Archaeology Section of Winchester Museums and latterly the Historic Environment Team at Winchester City Council.

The volume is published by Oxbow Books of Oxford ( in association with Historic England.